I beg to move,
That this House regrets Her Majesty's Government's decision to disband the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service and to abolish the Civil Defence responsibilities of local authorities contrary to the security interests of the nation, and calls upon Her Majesty's Government to make it possible for members of these services who so wish to continue on a voluntary basis.
Having spent most of the night wandering through the Lobbies in somewhat unfamiliar company, most of us are beginning to regard one another as almost human. This is a move in the right direction, because the events of the past few months have revealed that we are all deeply concerned about the state into which this country has fallen. Divided, as we certainly are, about the remedies to be applied, I think we owe it to one another to approach the problem in as unpolemical and objective a way as possible.
In raising the subject of civil defence, I assure the Home Secretary that I sincerely sympathise with any Minister of a spending Department who undergoes one of these periodical economy drives. I have been in that position at least twice, although I did not have to contend with the additional disadvantage of having recently been Chancellor of the Exchequer. This must have loaded the dice even more heavily against him than they were against me. Therefore, I do not want to reproach the right hon. Gentleman, so much as set forth the reasons why we on this side, and a number of people in the country, are disturbed by the particular decision at which the Government have arrived.
These periodical exercises in ministerial masochism are very painful. Each Minister is asked to sacrifice something to demonstrate his willingness to make what used to be called when I was in the Conservative Government, a contribution. I have no doubt that the jargon of the Civil Service and of the Cabinet Room still persists. Some find it easier than others.
The contribution we are discussing this afternoon relates to civil defence. If I illustrate the points which I want to make by the estimates for last year rather than by the out turn, it is because they are more conveniently accessible than because they are entirely up to date. The Civil Defence Estimates, as they were published last year, were for £13 million, excluding a figure for Scotland which must be added to it. I have no doubt that the actual cost, as is always the case, was rather different. The estimates for the future will reduce that figure to about £7 million. Although these figures are somewhat difficult to reconcile with those in the Prime Minister's statement, the proportion which the saving bears to the whole is in each case approximately the same—about half.
What have we bought by that saving? We have destroyed the present capability of the Civil Defence Corps by disbanding it. We have sacrificed the dedicated service over many years of those who have trained themselves voluntarily in these particular skills, and we have put the whole apparatus on what is called a care and maintenance basis, whatever that may mean. We have abandoned the state of readiness to which the N.A.T.O. nations are supposed to be working, which is one of 72 hours, for what I understand to be a state of readiness, even if the cadre of personnel can be reassembled at all, to one of approximately six months. In other words, at the saving of approximately half, we have destroyed almost the entire present value of the service.
We have to discuss whether this was a wise decision. It bears many of the characteristics of the Treasury cuts which have taken place in successive Ministerial exercises in economy. The right hon. Gentleman had to defend his own estimates, and, comparing the figure of £13 million with the whole, again leaving out any Scottish figures, and the Lord Chancellor's Department, because both are printed en the same page of the Estimates, he had to defend, in last year's terms, about £170 million of estimates. Of that, no less than £106 million was the police, not a very easily reducible figure, and he has not reduced it, for there the best contribution that he could offer was to restrain recruitment.
The next item was the headquarters, at £21 million. I do not want to make fun of this figure, because if one studies what is covered by it, one sees that there are a number of very important items indeed. I asked one of my hon. Friends who had been a Minister at the Home Office—because it is a fair question for the right hon. Gentleman to ask me, and one to which I cannot give him a wholly satisfactory answer, nor could I ever do so without the benefit of the Civil Service at my command—what fat there was in the Home Office headquarters to sacrifice, and he said in a melancholy kind of way, "Well, I believe there somewhere high up in the building is a typewriter of rather antique design, but the fact is that the Home Office has operated for many years on a shoestring, and is not the most extravagant of Departments". I accept that as being a general statement of the truth. Then there is child care at £6 million, and prisons at £28 million, and so civil defence at £13 million proved to be the lamb that was led to the slaughter
It is fair for the Government to ask what we would have done, and as long as they remember that they have the Civil Service, and we have not, that is a fair question to ask within the bounds of order, and I think that I should be within the bounds of order if I suggested three criteria. First, every Department has a certain amount of fat which can be cut off without serious loss of health. Secondly, there are a certain number of things which can be cut off without doing permanent damage to the service that one is seeking to provide, things which perhaps are the hobbies of individual officials or individual Ministers, things which on second thoughts one ought not to have tried at all. Thirdly, one can postpone useful projects which, none the less, can be postponed without permanent damage to the service
No doubt within the civil defence field there must have been a certain amount of fat, a certain amount of projects which ought to have been sacrificed, and a certain amount of projects which ought to have been postponed. But the effect which we are criticising this afternoon is none of these things. The Government have decided to destroy the present value of the service altogether
Was it wise to do that? The hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has put down an Amendment, not selected, which evidently indicates that he thought it was. The hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), by a curious coincidence, on the very day that the cuts were announced, had an Adjournment debate on civil defence, and he thought that it was. The reason the two hon. Gentlemen gave was that civil defence was of no use anyway. If a nuclear bomb is dropped, so the argument runs, we shall all be dead, including the civil defence, and so it is no good training them. If one accepts that premise, the conclusion must follow, but I could not but notice that the Government did not adopt the hon. Gentleman's Motion, and when the hon. Member for Putney put forward the argument it was indignantly repudiated by the Parliamentary Secretary. What is more, so far as I know, no European country accepts the argument, or has been so advised either by its military or its scientific advisers.
I have no reason to doubt it. The point that I about to make was that the hon. Gentleman sought to use my words to justify what he was saying. Those words, taken out of their context, fully justify the use that he made of them. I said on another occasion in this House, words which I do not repent or wish to qualify in any way. I told the House that we occupy an almost unique position in this world as being almost uniquely vulnerable to nuclear attack, I said that, although one could say that American might survive after a fashion, or China might survive after a fashion, or Russian might survive after a fashion, or the under-developed countries might not even be attacked and might therefore survive after a fashion, Britain would not survive.
I do not resile from the context in which I used that argument. These circumstances give us a unique moral authority to speak on issues of peace, not derived from military strength, but derived from military and physical vulnerability. I never meant to convey that as a matter of fact one can predict that every human being will disappear from the island if there is a nuclear attack.
Would not the right hon. and learned Gentleman agree that, as he has correctly said, his statement was:
I do not know."—
he was talking about the possibility of survival elsewhere—
but one thing I know, and that is that we would not survive …—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1965; Vol. 707, c. 1650.]
In saying that was not he admitting that all the civil defence jargon about millions of survivors was sheer nonsense, and that the disappearance of this force was long overdue?
No. That is precisely what I am seeking to explain. One must not argue too much like a lawyer, althongh I am sometimes guilty, though I hope not in this House, of arguing precisely in those terms. By that "we" I meant that this country would not survive, that the continuous life of this country which we had enjoyed for nearly 1,000 years, which is our almost unique inheritance, would disappear. I never meant to suggest that one could say that after a nuclear attack there would not be millions of people alive, millions of people sick, millions of people hurt, and millions of people in need of the common necessities of life and of the elements of civil Government.
I believe that to be the advice which the Government have received from their experts. It is certainly the advice which we received. All I am saying is that there is no country in the world which, so far as I know, has not taken the same view. Certainly the neutrals take it. Sweden and Switzerland take it. Switzerland has a form of conscription for civil defence, but we now are to be the odd man out doing something quite different from overy other civilised nation, and occupying a position in which the accepted N.A.T.O. strategy of 72 hours is deliberately being abandoned in favour of six months. I wonder whether that is a responsible decision at which to arrive.
I say this not in any polemical spirit. We have to add this much to it. Most of us who have reached a certain age have, at some stage of our lives lived through two world wars, both of them terrible but less terrible than the catastrophe which we are considering. A contributory cause is commonly accepted to have been that this country, for all her peaceful intentions and the weakening of her resources at the time, never brought it home to potential aggressors that we were sufficiently in earnest, that, as for other men and women, there came a point at which there were things for which we were even prepared to die and even prepared to see our homes, our families and our country destroyed. If we had made that clear in the past, we might have been spared much blood and many tears.
Civil defence is not merely an insurance against the results of the possibility, but part of the complex of activities which we call defence, the object of which is to prevent the contingency happening. What must be added to my criticisms is that it is not simply the abandonment in what I hope—although I cannot judge—is an ameliorating international situation, of an insurance policy against what happens if the worst occurs but it is part of the policy to prevent the worst from occurring. I must add this, although I may be trespassing on what my right hon. Friend will say next week: that our information is that the whole of modern strategic thought by the great Powers is increasingly of the opinion that confrontation between them would not necessarily lead to a nuclear exchange.
For instance, the Soviet Union has fifty nuclear submarines, not all of them with missiles. The questions of our sea lanes over a long period of attrition and of conventional attacks are not to be excluded. This, too, is on the assumption that the N.A.T.O. period of alert of 72 hours is accepted provisionally as coma, which is abandoned as a result of what the Government have done.
I am not at all happy that, even if the worst does not occur, the presence of a credible complex of defence activities is unnecessary. It is not very long since the Cuba crisis. I remember it clearly. I was in the Cabinet at the time. My wife had just had our latest child, and I was visiting her in the nursing home. So alarmed was I—I can give no other revelation which would not be a breach of confidence—that I seriously thought of baptising the baby in the washbasin of the nursing home lest she should not have been made a Christian before something happened.
Not the least debt which this country owes the late President Kennedy, whose tragic loss I shall ever deplore, was the way in which he handled that crisis not long ago. I cannot, with that experience at the back of my mind, believe that we are right to assume that nothing like it can happen again.
Another consideration is this. Are these services only for time of war? This is a most important question. I do not think that they are. For a long time, our complex industrial civilisation has been shown to be subject to contingencies, bottle-necks and all kinds of natural disasters. We remember the flooding of the Thames in the 1930s, with people in Chelsea and Poplar rendered homeless. We remember the 1953 floods at Lyn-mouth and the Hither Green disaster—the two trains, on a cold, foggy night, colliding on a railway bridge and the Auxiliary Fire Service, which is now to be destroyed, coming from all over London to help the professionals take the bodies of the injured from the wreckage. We remember Aberfan. We remember Glasgow, less than two months ago. We can think of other examples.
It is impossible to complete the catalogue of things which can happen to an industrial society in peace on a scale which renders the cadre of professional assistance inadequate for the purpose. Side by side with the professionals, surely there is room—I say, permanent room—quite irrespective of nuclear war or the confrontation of great powers, for the dedicated service voluntarily given by men and women whose vocation to help their fellow countrymen moves them in this direction. Are we to throw it all away?
I believe that all these professional services need their voluntary counterparts. The moment that I heard the announcement of the Prime Minister that he would disband the Civil Defence, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Territorial Army, the first thing I did was to ask the leader of my party to set up a policy committee to show how we could find a permanent niche in our industrial society for the dedicated, voluntary services and could re-establish them on some basis if necessary.
I see no necessity for them to be cast away. I do not believe that it is a necessary or a true economy. All industrial societies need people and services of this kind and people have been very deeply stirred by this more deeply than is known. Last Sunday—the fact was obliterated by other events commanding greater publicity—there was a parade of 2,000 voluntary workers from different parts of the country protesting at this decision, wearing their uniforms which will soon be taken away from them. They were received by the Under-Secretary with his customary consideration and courtesy.
Is it too late? All over the country, people are asking to be allowed to go on, without payment. The buildings are to be kept on a care and maintenance basis. It will not cost the Government very much. Perhaps it will cost them nothing at all. Local authorities still have personnel permanently employed, many of whom would be prepared to give their time out of working hours for nothing extra—
Is the right hon. and learned Gentleman aware that there has been a considerable amount of voluntary service in that field, quite apart from voluntary local authority service? Does this Government decision prohibit local authorities from rate spending to organise such a voluntary service?
This is what I ask the Government. What is their policy? I want them to say that there is nothing to stop local authorities from doing this. I do not want to humiliate the Govern- ment. I want them to say that this is the line which offers genuine economy without doing all the damage which I have been trying to describe. To borrow a phrase from the hon. Member for Buckingham (Mr. Maxwell), whom we have not seen about lately, here at least is one "uncranky way of backing Britain".
I believe that the days of this Parliament and this Government are numbered. I believe that our time is coming. We shall find some place for these voluntary services. I believe that it is only once in a generation or at most once in every 20 years that people make the mistake of thinking that "Labour Government works"; therefore I say to the voluntary services: "Hold fast. Relief is sure. It may come sooner than you think."
I beg to move, in line 1, to leave out from "House" to the end of the Question and to add instead thereof:
expresses its appreciation to the members of the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service for their services to the cause of Civil Defence, and while recognising the great value of the contribution made by the voluntary services, notes with approval that the Government, having regard to the economic and international situation, have decided to make a reduction in the level of Civil Defence".
I listened to the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) with very great enjoyment, as I always do, and I must say that I thought his last daring words must have touched a chord in many hearts. "We shall find some place for these volunteers", he said. The last person who said something like that was that very great man Winston Churchill. I do not know whether the right hon. and learned Gentleman has forgotten what he said. In the extremely unlikely event of a Conservative Government being returned at the next election, I hope they will not do what that great man did. He gave a similar pledge which the right hon. and learned Gentleman has obviously overlooked. He said he was going to reform the Home Guard, and he did so, and eighteen months later it died a quiet and natural death. I hope the right hon. and learned Gentleman, although he has many of the attributes of that great man,
will not repeat all his follies and mistakes, Because if there is one thing anybody considering this matter probably would want to take into consideration, it is the fact that if you decide to disband a service like this you do not necessarily re-form it in its present form or anything like that. As for finding a place for them, I will be able to suggest many places in the course of what I have to say. But it was a good speech, and I would like to come right back to the beginning of what the right hon. Gentleman said.
This phrase, which apparently was so current in Conservative Government circles, that you make a contribution in the event of financial difficulties always seem to me more like a forced levy. Certainly it was not what we in the Free Church used to call a free-will offering, either in my own case or that of many of my Night hon. Friends. But it is true that when I was faced with this prospect I considered what should be done. I looked round to see what voluntary freewill offering would be forced upon me if I did not yield; what offering I could make. Looking round, I decided, as I believe the right hon. Gentleman has said, that it would be wrong to cut down on the police; and I estimated that about £5 million extra should be spent on the police in the course of the coming year. I decided it would be wrong to cut down on security in prisons, and an extra £3 million is being spent on that in the course of the current year.
I looked at the children's service and, frankly, there is nothing one can lop off that. As to the Home Office staff, the right hon. and learned Gentleman gave his own assessment of that and, refering to our earlier discussions this week, I was tempted to intervene at one moment. I cannot refer to past events, but I have heard hon. Gentlemen say in this House that there is going to be a great increase in the volume of tourist traffic, and, of course, more demands will be made on immigration officers. I am bound to tell the House that if it wants increased economy there cannot be any increase in the number of immigration officers this year, and this may well mean that we cannot expect in terms of time the same high level of services, because under the conditions laid down, which the party opposite wanted as much as the Chancellor of the Exchequer, I am not in a position to recruit more than one or two, or a handful, of extra immigration officers this year.
I take up where the right hon. and learned Gentleman started, because there is a most meticulous and careful examination of the level of staffing, which is very desirable; and with my background I have no desire to try to inflate staffs or to create an empire. But I have looked into the time that is sometimes taken in the Home Office to answer letters of hon. Members. I do not like having to wait six weeks before letters are answered, and I find it very difficult, without an increase in staff, to cut down on delays or to improve much of the service that is being offered. I am not saying that everything in the Home Office is perfect. They would not believe me if I did so here because it is different from what I say there. But dealing with the right hon. and learned Gentleman's main point in this part of his speech, I can assure the House that there is a careful scrutiny going on and there is no doubt that a number of services which the Home Office could offer are not working at 100 per cent, efficiency, as I would like, because there is not the staff and I am deliberately refraining from recruiting staff to deal with that. That puts the backcloth to the picture with which I was confronted when I looked at the question of civil defence.
The right hon. Gentleman has been speaking of the difficulty he has found on making economies within the Home Office Vote, on which it is perfectly fair for him to speak. But would it not have been possible for him to try to persuade his colleagues to make economies by abandoning the Transport Bill and the Transport Holding Bill, where great economies can be made?
I do not know whether the hon. Gentleman heard what was said by the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marylebone that everybody in the Conservative Cabinet was asked to make a contribution. I am referring to the contribution I was asked to make to this general misery to which we were all subjected and I had to consider this within my own responsibility. As the right hon. Gentleman and those who have sat in Conservative Government will know, one cannot get support in Cabinet if one says to the Cabinet, "I will not do anything, but what about him or her?" One has to look at one's own field, and that was what I had to do. I had to look at what contribution I could make.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said that civil defence was being "abandoned". I would like to demonstrate later that this is not so, because I would not like that word to go out from the House. Civil defence is not being abandoned. Quite a sum of money is to be spent on civil defence which will have a purpose to fulfil.
I come now to the major point the right hon. and learned Gentleman made. I acknowledge at once that it is a responsibility of Government to provide for the safety of its citizens in war as well as in peace, and that unless it can be shown that a country is in no danger of external attack it is the duty of every Government to make civil defence preparations. This is the view I hold. What is at issue this afternoon is the question of what should be the proper level of preparation in our present circumstances. Money spent on civil defence is, in effect, an insurance premium—I do not think the right hon. and learned Gentleman wholly agrees with what I say—and it is the Government's responsibility to consider the size of the premium in relation to the risk involved, the cover we get and the capacity of the nation to pay the premium.
First, what is the risk involved? I agree with the right hon. and learned Gentleman that the world is not at peace. Indeed, a brutal and bloody war is being waged even as we speak here this afternoon. At the same time, it is the Government's assessment that the risk of nuclear attack on these islands is less now than it was a few years ago. This is one of the considerations which led me to put forward the proposition that I did.
I think that the horrific consequences of a nuclear war are now so well appreciated that it is difficult to believe that any country would willingly provoke such a conflict. Moreover, the recent events in the Middle East and in Vietnam have provided real evidence, in the view of the Government, that the Soviet Union and the United States are determined to avoid direct contact in a war situation.
I tell the House, as my conviction, that so long as the United States is committed to the defence of Europe and provided we keep up our active defences, there is very good reason to suppose that there will be no direct conflict in this theatre either. With this détente, the hope of peaceful coexistence between the two major nuclear powers appears to me to be as strong today as it ever has been.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman referred to the events of Cuba. I agree with him entirely. I thought that the courage and coolness shown by the late President Kennedy on that occasion would command my everlasting admiration. It must have been one of the most terrifying ordeals that any President of the United States—indeed, any human being—has ever had to endure. However, I think that it marked a turning point, and when the right hon. and learned Gentleman says that it could happen again, while he is of course right, I believe that the consequences of Cuba in the minds of both top American statesmen and generals and top Russians have acted more as a bringing together of these two major nuclear Powers than as something that might make them drift apart.
I will give an illustration of what I mean. For the last 18 months, and I have been watching this very closely, I have seen more evidence than ever before of the United States and Russia working together in a particular matter in which they have a common interest and with which civil defence is concerned. I refer to the tabling of a complete Treaty text by the co-Chairmen of the 18-Nation Disarmament Committee when the conference resumed in Geneva last month. This marked a new and, I believe—having studied the Treaty—a very significant step forward in the progress towards a non-proliferation agreement on nuclear weapons.
The fact that 18 countries, led by the two most important nuclear powers, are now on the brink of reaching an agreement to ban the further spread of nuclear weapons suggests to me that a worthwhile reduction in international tension is on the point of being achieved. It is true that two of the nuclear Powers, France and China, are not taking part in these discussions. I deplore this, but I do not believe—indeed, I cannot believe—that the absence of these two nations will undermine the value of the Treaty. I sincerely hope, as do Her Majesty's Government, that the conclusion of a non-proliferation treaty will be the first step towards further measures which will lead to nuclear arms control and, later, to general disarmament. 'There are, therefore, some encouraging signs. I do not want to put the matter too high, but I repeat that it is against this background that I considered where economies should be made in the Home Office.
I would be the last to claim that we have sufficient justification for believing that the risk of nuclear war has completely gone. That would be absurd. There remains the danger, remote as we believe it to be, of accident or miscalculation. But the danger has lessened significantly enough in my view and in the view of the Government to permit us, at a time of extreme financial stringency, to look more closely than ever before at the level of expenditure on civil defence preparations—at what I would call the size of our insurance premium.
If I answered the hon. and gallant Gentleman's question fully, I would be wide of the subject of civil defence. I assure him that I am extremely interested in this topic and that perhaps on some other occasion, although this is unlikely, I might be asked to speak for the Government. I do not think that I can go wide enough to answer him, except to say that the nature of the Government's decision shows the need to concentrate on Europe and to maintain the N.A.T.O. defence system which, in my view, in relation to the subject under discussion today, is likely to make the prospect of tension or an outbreak of war in this theatre more unlikely.
Can we draw the conclusion from what the right hon. Gentleman has been saying that if there had not been a financial crisis, and if devaluation had not occurred, the Government would nevertheless have substantially cut down on civil defence? Does that mean that if we recover our finances, which I hope we shall, there is a chance of this force being reestablished?
I did not say that, and I do not think that I would draw such a conclusion. The size of the insurance premium one pays at any particular time is always related to one's capacity to pay. Sometimes one can insure more than at other times. I do not wish to be drawn into giving any undertaking, as the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone did, that this force would be re-formed. If the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) was trying to tempt me into giving such an undertaking, I can only tell him that I must decline to walk down that primrose path.
My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister included in his statement of 16th January, in the light of these considerations and of the financial situation, the announcement of a substantial reduction in the level of our civil defence preparations. I assure the Leader of the Opposition that this is certainly not one of those shadow cuts to which he referred but a very real cut. I emphasise this again because there seems to have been some confusion about it. The preparations for civil defence have not ceased. We have decided to reduce civil defence, but not to abandon it. The previous programme was growing steadily and would have gone on growing in cost.
I appreciate the difficulty of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone in considering the figures involved. They are somewhat confusing because at times they are described in terms of England and Wales expenditure, at other times they relate to Scottish expenditure, yet on other occasions—and this is a most difficult concept—they are related to public expenditure, which includes total expenditure by central and local government. If I give the figures of total annual public expenditure—local and national—it will be seen that the programme on which we would have embarked during the next financial year would have been of the order of £25 million to £27 million, and that includes Scotland.
Would the right hon. Gentleman make it clear to what extent that figure includes expenditure on what one can only describe as "capital account"—that is, buildings and further extensions of the control system?
It would have included that. I have the complete make-up with me and I assure the right hon. and learned Gentleman that it would certainly have included the capital expenditure to which he referred. I cannot give him the exact figures for each item because the figures are divided between the services under capital and current account.
I cannot. These are United Kingdom figures and I am afraid that I cannot break them down. I hope, however, that that will not be regarded as an insult to Scotland. I am sure that my hon. Friend will be able to give all the relevant figures required at the end of the debate. The revised arrangements are expected to reduce this figure of £25 million to £27 million to about £13 million in 1968–69 and to some £7 million or £8 million a year thereafter.
In practical terms, the main effects of this decision are these. We shall preserve those physical assets already in existence which have an operational value, but it will not be possible to spend further money on creating new assets. Training will have to be reduced to the level necessary to preserve a core of existing knowledge and experience. The Civil Defence Corps, with about 59,000 members and a further 10,000 to 11,000 on active reserve; making about 70,000 in all—and this is the gravamen of the complaint of the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone—and the Auxiliary Fire Service, with about 14,000 members, will have to be disbanded, and so will the Territorial and Army Volunteer Reserve III. On the other hand, the Women's Royal Voluntary service, which is predominantly concerned with peacetime activities, will be retained and the Royal Observer Corps will continue as part of the Warning and Monitoring Organisation. The Warning and Monitoring Organisation will be retained, but with some reorganisation and reduction in expenditure.
Our Amendment pays tribute to the work of the volunteers in the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service. I want here to pay a very sincere tribute to the work of the two services which are continuing. The Royal Observer Corps does a first-class job. So, as every hon. Member knows, does the W.R.V.S. I think that this Service is one of the best investments the nation has ever made and the willing and cheerful work done by these ladies in all parts of the country is something of which every one of us has had very great experience and we deeply admire the effort they are making. I am delighted to say that the Service will be continuing, flourishing and, I hope, expanding.
That is a very brief summary. Perhaps I can go on in a little more detail and deal, first, with the Government's decision as regards local authority expenditure.
The Secretary of State said just now that he thought it unlikely that a Cuba situation would arise again in that form. I take that point. It is a matter of opinion. Surely the crux of the matter is how long it would take, in a pending crisis, for the Government of the day to reactivate the civil defence organisation. Can he imagine the circumstances in which the Government would, six months before the event, which is the time required in the light of the winding-up of the civil defence organisation, begin to reactivate the Civil Defence Corps, with all the panic which would ensue in those six months?
I was proposing to deal with that a little later, but I will gladly deal with it now. Cuba blew up very quickly. It is possible to form a judgment that future crises are likely to be longer in developing than that was. [HON. MEMBERS: "Why?"] For the reasons I have given. I shall not traverse that part of my speech again. I believe that there has been a growing understanding of the consequences of nuclear attack by both the U.S.S.R. and the United States. [Interruption.] As to China, I am being tempted on to ground which perhaps I should not attempt to cover. I shall not discuss China's weapon capacity or her capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon or its range. It is reasonable, although obviously anybody can make his own judgment, to believe that there will be an opportunity to build up these services again. It is on that expectation that the Government are basing themselves.
I want the House also to recognise that, important though the civil defence and the A.F.S. were, they were, in a sense, auxiliary to a good many of the services which are now being operated in Britain for purposes either of civil defence in its broadest form or in relation to natural disasters, to which I will return later.
I hope that no one will think that I am writing down their efforts, but they were, as it were, supporting a very great volume of local authority effort in every direction, whether it was in the fire service, in the police, in the Red Cross, in the St. John Ambulance Brigade, or in borough engineers' departments. All these services would, in the event of a nuclear attack or, indeed, of any other type of attack on Britain, be brought into play. They remain. They exist. They are performing a very valuable peacetime function. I would not like it to be thought that the removal of the civil defence volunteers, who fulfilled an important function, thereby meant that we were entirely bereft of any precautions in the event of attacks building up.
If the hon. Gentleman had waited for one more sentence he would have heard me give the answer. I was about to say that I am not at all sure that anybody would want to recreate it in its present form, but I would accept, in the light of the maintenance which is going on, the physical assets which are being preserved, and the equipment which is being stored in 40 regional headquarters throughout the country, that the equipment could be dispersed very rapidly again. It is being properly maintained.
The hon. Gentleman shakes his head. I can only tell him that it is being assembled in these headquarters very quickly and it could be dispersed equally quickly. The men would clearly take time to recruit and train again. No one knows exactly—it would depend on the crash programme—how long that would take. The House should not be under the delusion that the absence of the Civil Defence Corps would mean, therefore, that there would be no co-ordination of effort through the local authority system as it exists today. If I am not interrupted, perhaps I shall be allowed to go on to explain why.
Local authority expenditure on the maintenance of the volunteer forces and the costs of supporting administration has run at about £8 million a year, some three-quarters of which has come from the Exchequer. Under our proposals this total will be reduced to a little over £3 million next year and to about £1 million a year after that.
That part of our decision which, not surprisingly, has resulted in the greatest publicity and heartburning has been the decision to disband the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service. It was a difficult decision to take. It was not one that I cared to take. I know that it is one which has caused a great deal of disappointment to volunteers in all parts of the country.
Having been diverted, allow me now to pay my tribute to the enthusiasm and devotion which these volunteers have shown in the past. My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have had plenty of evidence, from the letters arriving in our offices and in other ways, of their enthusiasm and devotion. The Government are truly grateful for the services which the volunteers have given in the past.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman said right at the beginning that the country had fallen into low straits, but these volunteers are a remarkable illustration that the idea of voluntary service, which, in my view, distinguishes Britain so much from so many other countries, is very much alive. I believe that a country is free when it has a community in which voluntary service is desired and practised by so many people. We have so many institutions today where the idea of voluntary service has thrived and is thriving. I believe that this is one of the marks of a healthy society.
However, with reluctance and with regret, the decision to disband the volunteer services became inescapable once we decided that substantial economies were necessary. There is nothing stopping the offer of voluntary services either in this field or in others. If volunteers wish to offer their services, there are such invaluable institutions as the Red Cross; I have mentioned already the W.R.V.S.; there is St. John Ambulance Brigade. There are a number of institutions where voluntary service of this nature, the desire for which has been so marked in the letters I have received, can still be given. I hope that many of the volunteers will feel that it is worth their while doing it.
The maintenance of sizeable volunteer services for one of the many roles in civil defence which they fulfilled would be out of scale with what is required by the policy we decided to adopt; that is, to continue with planning, to maintain a core of knowledge and expertise, and to preserve existing operation of assets.
Therefore, the intention is to disband the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service on 31st March next. This will require the revocation of the Civil Defence Corps Regulations, 1949, an amendment to the Civil Defence (Fire Service) Regulations, 1949, and comparable action in relation to the Scottish Regulations. This will relieve authorities of their statutory obligation to maintain forces. I emphasise the phrase, their statutory obligation to maintain forces. Revocation orders for this purpose will be before Parliament and will require affirmative Resolutions.
I would like to deal with the detailed point that has been put to me by many civil defence volunteers, which is: can we not allow the services to continue if they offer to serve without bounty or other direct payment. I think all of us would welcome the spirit in which these offers were made. It is not a pleasant task to have to decline unselfish offers of service of this sort. Unfortunately, in this service it is the cost of the administration and the expense resulting from the use of premises and equipment rather than the direct payments to volunteers—which were small enough—which amount to by far the greatest part of the cost of the two services. Volunteers' payments, indeed, account for less than 10 per cent. of the total expenditure with which we are now dealing, and I fear there is no avoiding the conclusion that offers of this kind, however generous, simply cannot produce the savings which I am required to make.
I come to the point that the right hon. and learned Gentleman the Member for St. Marlyebone put to me, that the continued existence of these services can, to some extent, be justified by their value in various peace-time disasters. I looked very carefully at this aspect of the matter. It is certainly true that both the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service have readily come forward when disasters have occurred, and the Government and country have reason to be grateful for their help. The right hon. and learned Gentleman mentioned a number of them. I have only personal experience of Aberfan, where I happened to be on the night on which it took place, and the civil defence was certainly much in evidence there. doing an excellent job. But there were a great many other services doing an excellent job there at the same time. Indeed, it was a remarkable combination of voluntary effort which seemed to grow almost spontaneously. I fear I am forced to the conclusion that there is no evidence really to suggest that the existing services and the peacetime volunteer bodies are inadequate to deal with these disasters, as and when they occur. As I say, we are very appreciative of the help that has been given. I certainly do not want to sound ungracious, but I cannot see a justification for expenditure on the level of £25 million to £27 million that would be needed to maintain an organisation of the size of the Civil Defence Corps primarily or solely for the purpose of dealing with peacetime disasters.
Let me return to the civil defence responsibilities of local authorities. The reduction in expenditure which the Government is making will mean drastic cuts in the numbers of staff employed on civil defence duties. There are about 2,400 local authority staff at present so engaged in Great Britain—in the main, civil defence officers, deputies, instructors and supporting staff. I know local authorities are under heavy pressure to reduce their staff overall; they have much the same pressures as I was describing at the beginning of my speech, but I know they will be as sympathetic as possible about offering alternative employment to as many of these civil defence employees as they can reasonably absorb. For those who lose their jobs, compensation arrangements will be made, similar to those made for staff displaced as a result of the reorganisation of local Government.
Then, as regards the Auxiliary Fire Service, there are some 270 full-time officers employed on organisation and training. The expectation is that these 270 will be absorbed into the regular brigades. There will still be a need for some full-time civil defence staff. The intention is that local authorities should continue civil defence planning at the minimum level needed to enable more active preparations to be resumed, if necessary, without too much loss of ground. We are now discussing with the associations of local authorities how this should best be done, within the much smaller amount of money that will be available. and how far it may be possible for local authorities to share planning staff in order to keep down costs.
I must emphasise that, contrary to what is said in the Motion, local authorities will have continuing civil defence responsibilities, although they will be less onerous. As I have just said, they will be called upon to continue with a certain amount of planning activity of an administrative character and continue to be responsible for instructing and advising the public, making provision for housing and feeding the homeless, and for the first-aid care of casualties. They will also be asked to preserve the operational control buildings and their communications which form part of the system of civil defence control at various levels of government—a system which is being retained on a care and maintenance basis.
The Home Office and the other Government Departments will continue to provide local authorities with support and guidance in civil defence matters.
The Civil Defence Staff College at Sunningdale and the training schools at Falfield and Taymouth Castle will be closed as measures of economy, but the school at Easingwold will be kept open, and activities and instruction will be centralised at that school. It is proposed to provide there background and general planning courses for those having continual planning responsibilities in local and central government, essential industries and the police and fire service. There will also be training courses for the National Warning and Monitoring Organisation. Easingwold will provide a venue for studies and conferences on civil defence matters for those retaining a concern with civil defence—government departments, local authorities, the police, the fire service, the Armed Forces, the public utilities and industry. The Home Office civil defence staff are being withdrawn from the regions and there will be reductions at headquarters, where the Department will maintain a planning staff. When we have settled with local authorities the level of their own planning staffs, we can determine how best to provide support and supervision from the centre.
The police will continue to have special responsibilities in emergencies, both in peace and in war, and will maintain planning and training to cope with these, and the reorganisation and amalgamations of the police services that are taking place at the present time will undoubtedly assist in this direction.
No, I can assure my hon. Friend, that the Secretary of State for Scotland would not permit that to happen, and I am sure that if he asks him he will give him the details of what is proposed.
Although the Auxiliary Fire Service is to be disbanded, and further stockpiling of emergency fire equipment is to cease, emergency fire preparations are not being abandoned. The regular peacetime fire service will continue emergency planning, and there will still be some central training at the Fire Service Training College at Moreton-in-Marsh, given to selected officers of the brigades in order to keep alive the doctrines developed for the organisation and deployment of the emergency fire service in war. Stocks of emergency fire service equipment will be retained in store.
I am glad to say that my hon. Friend's tiredness has meant his vision is not as acute as usual. The Under-Secretary for the Scottish Office is here and would, of course, be very happy indeed to help my hon. Friend in anything he wishes to know.
That is not a matter for me.
We shall also be preserving the Warning and Monitoring Organisations, which includes the Royal Observer Corps. It is complete and can quickly be brought to operational readiness. It requires a substantial degree of technical skill and the Government's view is that it should not be disbanded. Even after the disbandment of the voluntary services, the country will still have considerable physical and human assets ready for use.
I have so far mentioned services which are the concern of the local authorities because the Opposition Motion refers to these, and also the services with which, as Home Secretary, I have a direct concern. But there are other aspects of civil defence which have not been getting so much attention, but which are important in relation to the level of activity for which we are seeking the approval of the House. There are a number of Government Departments and essential industries and services which have been developing plans and physical preparations over the years to improve their capacity to operate under war conditions. I give two or three examples: plans and preparations have been made for broadcasting, for water supply which is, naturally, of the very greatest importance, for food supply and for the keeping open of ports and shipping. All these plans will be kept up to date and existing physical assets will be maintained. The Government's view of their present responsibilities is that we are to preserve the existing physical assets—equipment, control premises and communications; and both central and local government, and essential industries and services, will continue with planning. Our object will be to identify those items on which we must move quickly if an emergency seems likely to arise and to ensure a coherent approach to the job by all the authorities and interests concerned.
The Government regret that it has been necessary to take the harsh and painful course of accepting a lower state of readiness in our civil defence preparations, but this decision should not be misunderstood. We have not decided that civil defence as a whole is useless. What we have done is to look again at the level at which we can afford to maintain our activities at the present time.
I ask the House to consider the terms of the Government Amendment to the Opposition Motion. In that Amendment, we invite the House to express its appreciation to the members of the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service for their services to the cause of civil defence; but we also invite the House, while recognising the value of the contribution of these voluntary services, to note with approval the Government's decision, in the light of the economic and the international situation, to reduce the level of civil defence. I maintain that in the situation with which we were faced there is good sense in the balance which we have struck, and I ask the House to approve the Government Amendment.
I support the Motion moved by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg). It so happens that I represent a constituency which is largely rural and which does not contain any of the larger conurbations where one might expect a very considerable interest and apprehension to be caused by the possibility of nuclear damage and nuclear warfare. Nevertheless, I have been amazed by the amount of feeling which has been created in my constituency by the Government's proposals, which are the virtual disbandment of the civil defence and the Auxiliary Fire Service.
So great has been that apprehension and concern that I have received a petition from one end of the constituency signed by 300 people, I have sent it to the Home Secretary. At the other end of the constituency, a group of people have asked me, "Can we do the work voluntarily?" They have asked whether they can do that, but from what the Home Secretary said it seems unlikely. They have been strenuously occupying themselves over the years in civil defence duties and they are most concerned that their organisation should be in some way retained. Alternatively, they hope they may be given some way of working as a voluntary organisation which would give them a chance to do much the same sort of work which they have done in the past. This would form a foundation for the future and a safeguard for the present.
There is no doubt at all that the decision virtually to do away with the civil defence organisation—however we may dress it up it is pretty well being thrown away by the actions of the present Government and with it the Auxiliary Fire Service—has shocked the general public and profoundly depressed all those who have given voluntary service to the community. They have helped and they like helping their fellow citizens when the need should arise. It may be, although I do not think it is so, that Her Majesty's Government take the view that all danger from nuclear attack has ceased. I did not get that view from what the Home Secretary said, but if the Government do take that view perhaps they will tell us. Perhaps they will tell us why they take a view so contrary to that of all other countries in Europe.
If there are no grounds for such a view why should we disband or virtually do away with this most valuable body of men and women who have been trained, some for many years, to deal with emergencies? This nucleus of trained volunteers is of immense value in many emergencies which may arise not only from the possibility of war or nuclear attack. I well remember the distress and loss of life and peril caused by a number of serious floods in the West Country part of which I represent. I well remember the great value of the services to which we are referring to the community not only in the far west but also in my constituency. I remember the tremendous help given by the very people whom the Government wish to disband.
They could give the help because they were organised and ready and knew their job. It is all very well to say that there will always be people—thank God there always will be—prepared to serve in the Red Cross, the St. John Ambulance and many other voluntary organisations but there must be someone who can collate and co-ordinate that help. That is what the civil defence organisation is able to provide. It may be that acts of God may happen which will need their services in the countryside. It must have been incredibly depressing to those who only a year or so ago were encouraged by Lord Stonham to go on with their jobs in civil defence when they heard from the Prime Minister towards the end of January that he did not want them any more. This is a very sad thing.
Despite all that has been said I do not think this will entirely happen because many of these people will get together to work voluntarily. If they wish to do so I hope that the Home Secretary will think again and give every encouragement to them. He said that there is a fair amount of equipment at headquarters. They might like to look over it from time (o time and to keep themselves familiar with it. If the equipment and depots are there why should they not look it over and keep themselves voluntarily—I emphasise voluntarily—in touch with affairs and with all that is going on in civil defence? Local authorities will not now be required to undertake many of the duties they were previously required to do but in an emergency those activities would be required very quickly. They would be required for clearance work, rescue work and the maintaining of communications. Knowledge about this is in the minds of civil defence workers. We should make the best use of it while we can and we should continue to make the best use of it.
I hope that Her Majesty's Government do not take the view that the nuclear all-clear has been sounded and that no disaster like that is likely to happen. That would be an optimistic view although I hope that nothing such as that ever will happen. In the meantime I hope that the Government will realise that it is utterly wrong as many of my hon. Friends and I consider it is that this great reserve of good will and effort provided by the Auxiliary Fire Services and the civil defence, and still fortunately provided by the W.R.V.S. and many other voluntary services, should be thrown away; for once we have done that it will be very difficult to bring those services together again. A year or two years' gap will take a tremendous time to put right again so I ask the right lion. Gentleman the Home Secretary not to destroy all this because it is going to be difficult to rebuild.
It is always a sad day when one witnesses the end of any voluntary organisation, and today is no exception. I shall be supporting the Government on this Motion tonight, and I shall explain why later. The hon. Member for Bridgwater (Sir G. Wills) is perhaps deceiving himself when he says that many people are up in arms about this. It is easy to get this impression. As one who has served in voluntary services for many years I would say that it is easy to think that one's own organisation is the be all and end all of everything. Those people who are actively employed in these organisations are disturbed, but I do not think the rest of the country concerns itself whether they exist or not. That is the unfortunate thing about defence forces. Nobody wants them in peace time, because they have to pay for them. It is only when war comes that they want to know why we have not provided them.
That is the point I was making. It is only when the emergency arises that people ask where our defence forces are. To that extent I think it is wrong to say that there is a great lack in the country. Within the organisations themselves that may well be so. My right hon. Friend was probably right in saying that there is less possibility today of the civil defence forces being used in any nuclear engagement. We hope he is right.
One of the reasons why I intend to support the Government is that I believe that at last we are getting our priorities right. During my years in the House I have always maintained that this country can lose a war only in Europe. It can lose a battle in the Far East, as we did in the last war, but it is in Europe that we can be defeated. The fact that we are going to concentrate these forces in Europe makes a war in Europe less likely, and there is less possibility of needing our civil defence forces.
My right hon. Friend is deceiving himself when he says we are going to have a great deal of time to bring these forces into operation. When they go now I think we have seen them go for good until the crisis is upon us. It is quite wrong to get the impression that we would be able to get them back overnight. If any crisis arises it would not help the crisis to have to build up forces in the country. It is arguable, but my view is that we would not be able to do so in time.
We got driven out of the places the party opposite say we ought to keep our forces in. It is vital for the defence of our country. We were not defeated in these islands and while we maintain our defence here we can ultimately win. We lost the war in Malaya, but eventually we got back again, but only because we managed to hold on to these islands. If it had been the opposite way round it would not have been much good hanging on to Singapore and other places.
I understand—and perhaps my hon. Friend will tell us when he is closing the debate—that talks are going on with the Territorial Army, with the Duke of Norfolk and so on. Could he give some indication what stage these talks have reached and whether any progress has been made?
I am complaining that these forces are expensive to maintain, but I believe we make them unduly expensive by saying there must be so much footage per unit and so many permanent staff. This is not the way to run cheaply a civil defence or any other organisation. Our drill halls are often under-employed and closed on some niehts in the week instead of concentrating one unit there per night. In order to cut down on the expenditure these are the things which we should have tried before we disbanded.
Why was it not possible to organise some scheme whereby the auxiliary fire services could have operated at the regular stations on so many nights a week? I believe that we have not examined the problem properly. We have been paying tribute to the auxiliary services. I might mention the auxiliary fire service in my constituency and the diversity of work in which they have been engaged. On five nights a week they augment the regular services at a different station. They have assisted in two fires on ships in Liverpool Docks; they have assisted the police in dragging ponds when children have been missing, and helped in airport disasters. They maintain a 24-hour service and they can man six emergency forces at any time of the night or day. I do not believe the public appreciates this when we are talking about costs.
I know that the Department is out to make a cut, but when I was engaged in the Territorial Army I seemed to notice that the people who made the cuts always managed to maintain their own Department. If a case was to be considered between the Territorial and the Regular Army the Regular Army made cuts in the Territorial Army, and one wonders whether there is a vested interest in doing this. I am not certain that the cuts we make are the best ones to be made. Rather than the Department saying where the cuts should come I would rather that other people might have examined other means whereby cuts could be made.
The right hon. Gentleman paid great tribute to the fact that this country is able to produce these volunteers. This has been so in the past. Many of the volunteers have given their service and their time unstintingly, without hope of reward, and now we are saying "Thank you very much, your services are no longer required". We have done this with the Regular Forces. I do not believe it is possible to maintain happy forces unless there is some security of tenure. They have not had that over the last few years—and it does not apply only to this Government. We ought to bear this in mind when talking about an endless fund of good will. We are inclined to dissipate this fund. This is something we ought to look at closely when we are examining these voluntary organisations.
At a time when we are deploring the fact, rightly or wrongly, that so many younger people are wanting only something for themselves and are not prepared to give anything, when we are spending millions of pounds on youth services to keep them off the streets and millions of pounds on community services, we should realise that here are people not asking us to spend money on them. They are anxious to give their services to the country. They arc not asking for luxurious clubs but only for somewhere where they can meet and do the jobs which they feel are of benefit to the country. Perhaps we get our priorities a little wrong when we start spending millions of pounds on things which we say are necessary to keep people off the streets while throwing overboard people who are giving their services and hoping that they will look after themselves somehow or other.
I know that there are many excellent organisations, such as the St. John Ambulance Brigade. I have had many years of active employment with them. I could go through a whole list, but we must remember that people who join the Territorials and the Fire Service are looking for something a little different from the St. John Ambulance Brigade, though I do not mean to disparage the Brigade. They want a little excitement in attending fires and so on. The Territorials and the Fire Service cater for a different type of person from the other voluntary organisations. In the same way, the uniformed organisations cater for something different from the youth clubs. There should be a good mixture of all these organisations. We are now getting rid of two or three organisations, and other organisations will not be able to take the people who are being dispossessed of their present jobs.
I said that I would explain why I support the Government. In the past two days many people have said that they were going into the Division Lobbies on the Commonwealth Immigration Bill with heavy hearts. I heard many of them say that, and I am sure that my right hon. Friend went into the Division Lobby with a heavy heart. Tonight he has got me going into his Lobby with a heavy heart. I did not go into his Lobby in the past two nights—I went into the other one. So now it is my turn to have a heavy heart.
I want to explain why I support the Government now, because 24¼ years ago we had a debate on the Territorial Army and I then refused to support them. I think that the issue today is different. At that stage we were cutting down our reserve forces without in any way seeking to reduce our commitments. Today I believe that this country will be stronger by throwing overboard some of our commitments and concentrating our defence where it is required.
What we are voting on tonight is part of a package deal. I stood in this very spot two or three months ago and be-laboured my Government for lack of guts and determination in not facing the financial situation which existed then and not carrying out remedies. Therefore, it would be unbecoming of me to say tonight, now that they are to carry out the remedies, that because I do not like this particular one I shall not support it. If there is a package deal one can throw the whole package overboard and say that one will not support it, but if one supports it one is honour bound to support the disagreeable parts. Therefore, I shall to that extent very reluctantly go into the Lobby tonight to support the Government.
But that does not alter the fact that I believe that this is a cheeseparing of what I think are vital services, not necessarily because I believe that they will save this country in time of nuclear war, albeit they have a vital part to play even then, but because I believe that the people concerned represent some of the best that this country produces. It is difficult to get people of that type trained in an emergency, and once we get rid of them they will not be there if the emergency arises in another six months, because it will be impossible to train them.
I hope that this is not the end of these voluntary organisations. Perhaps thought can be given to how they might be employed in existing services.
I shall not try to deal with all that the hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) said. As I have on many past occasions, I find myself in almost complete agreement with the sentiments he expressed. I think that I can safely say that there is no one on this side of the House who has not in the past admired him for having had the courage of his convictions. But between the convictions and sentiments he expressed and his announcement of his intention to support the Government tonight, I found a certain logical difficulty, a non sequitur, which surprised me in all the circumstances, because if one analyses the case which the Home Secretary has made for the cuts and the disbandment of the civil defence volunteers, one finds that it rests on two bases.
First, the Home Secretary says that we must make economies. That is quite right, and everyone would applaud and approve that. He said that the Cabinet looked to see where they could properly make the economies and then he said—what a fortunate coincidence it would be if we could accept it!—" I found that the civil defence organisation, to which so many volunteers have given their time, resources and public service over so many years, is really no longer necessary because the world is so much safer now than it was." If that were true, we should accept it as a remarkable and fortunate coincidence. But if it is not true, is shows in the right hon. Gentleman and his Government a most remarkable capacity for self-deception.
It is the latter view of the action taken that we should adopt. If the right hon. Gentleman is right to say that we no longer really need those services—and if we analyse it, that is what he is saying—he is going back on everything his predecessor and other Ministers in the Home Department have said over the past two or three years.
I should like briefly to refer to some of the things that have been said, because it is in the light of them that we should consider the Government's action now. When making a statement to the House on home defence in February, 1966, the present Chancellor of the Exchequer said:
I am now able to state in general terms the outcome of the Government's review of home defence.
that was only two years ago—
We have concluded that, despite the reduction in the risk of a nuclear conflict, we
cannot discontinue civil defence preparations. There is always the possibility of war arising from misunderstanding or miscalculation; and we cannot be certain about the future spread of nuclear weapons.
Our studies confirm that, in the event—fortunately unlikely—of a nuclear conflict,"—
Note the distinction. First it is said that these preparations are necessary for conventional conflict, and then for a nuclear conflict—
Sensible Civil Defence preparations could do much to save lives, to relieve suffering and to help the nation to survive as an organised entity. But there is a limit to what we can afford by way of insurance against this risk."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 1089–90.]
The right hon. Gentleman went on to announce cuts then being made but at least he was keeping the organisation in being and he enunciated his reasons for doing so.
What changes does the Home Secretary postulate as having occurred which have changed the situation since then? A war is raging in the Far East. The right hon. Gentleman spoke of the possibility of a détente but it is not on a possibility of détente that we should run our affairs. We must face risks as they stand, and in the light of those risks as they stand I say, as the present Chancellor said two years ago, that we cannot afford to disband the civil defence force.
My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer did not say that we were going to do away with the civil defence organisation nor that we were going to discontinue civil defence preparations, and that i3 correct. Today my right hon. Friend the Home Secretary explained that we are not doing away with civil defence preparations.
That is what the hon. Gentleman says. It is for the House to consider the accuracy of that statement in the light of what the Government are doing. I have no doubt of its conclusions. The quotation I have given was from a statement as long ago as February, 1966, but one does not have to go back: as far as that to see views of the same kind being expressed by the present Chancellor. On 14th December, 1966, he spoke again about civil defence. He said:
With permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a statement about civil defence, and particularly about the future of the Civil Defence Corps.
After consultation with the local authority associations, my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Scotland and I have decided that the Civil Defence Corps should be reorganised and substantially reduced in numbers.
That he went on to do, because the Corps and civil defence in general have always been among the whipping boys of the Government. Of course, the Government always pay lip-service to the services rendered by this gallant band of volunteers. The right hon. Gentleman continued:
We are greatly indebted to the members of the Corps. Their new role will be of great importance, and there will be a continuing need to attract people of high calibre, with qualities of leadership.
Expressing the need to continue that recruitment, he went on
The Government believe that by carrying out the measures I have indicated they will retain on the most economical basis a pattern of civil defence preparations which, if there were a nuclear attack on this country, would enable many millions of lives to be saved."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 14th December, 1966; Vol. 738, c. 458–9.]
What has happened between December, 1966, and this leap day of this leap year which has made it no longer necessary to provide against the possible loss of millions of lives in the event of a nuclear conflict? But we need not even go back as far as December, 1966. In another place, the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, speaking as a Home Office Minister as recently as March, 1967, less than a year ago, said that there were some who would say that, in a nuclear disaster, nothing would avail the people of the nation to survive but that the Government totally rejected that view.
I ask again what has happened, save that the Government have got the country into a first-class economic mess, between March, 1967, and now which in any way changes that situation. The answer is that absolutely nothing has happened to do so. The key to what has happened is to be found in that new code expression in the jargon of today, "a package deal". This appears to be a deal in which all Ministers go into the Cabinet Room and each is called upon to make some sacrifice—not a personal sacrifice, of course but a sacrifice of what their Ministries require for the good of the nation. Some things are more legitimately sacrificed than others, but I believe the defence of this country and the saving of the lives of its people in a nuclear attack are the very last things to be sacrificed in any package deal.
The truth of the matter is that, if this is the way in which the Government of this country is conducted, a package deal is the very negation of good government because good government demands that sacrifices and cuts shall be made where the great interest of the nation demands that they should be made. I can make suggestions to hon. Members opposite about where cuts should be made—I have made them in previous debates. But my submission again is that the last place where they should be made is in safeguarding the lives of the people of this country and at a cost which is minimal compared with the hundreds of millions of £s being budgeted for in the expenditure for the coming year, and in such costly ideological conceptions as the Land Commission and the Transport Bill.
Mine is one of those constituencies where those who have given their services to civil defence are most anxious to continue on a voluntary basis. I would not extol my constituency particularly in that regard. Such offers have been made from all over Britain and are a tribute to the people who have made them. I beg the Home Secretary to reconsider his position. All that is being asked is that these volunteers should have the use of civil defence headquarters, which are not going to be exploded by the Sappers or by the Royal Marines, and that they should continue to have the use of their uniforms.
The Home Secretary said that nevertheless expenses would fall upon local authorities by way of administration and so on. Has he consulted them to see in what way the costs of such administration could be cut if voluntary service of this kind were allowed to continue? Perhaps we can have an answer in due course. Whatever the answer is, I submit that for the overwhelming needs of the country, in language which has been pointed out by Minister after Minister and which I have quoted—many other quotations could be made—and for the spirit of voluntary service in the community as well, this is the last place where cuts should be made and the Government deserve censure for having made them.
My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth, (Mr. Crawshaw) has said that he will go into the Lobby for the Government with some reluctance but will nevertheless go. I shall go with great enthusiasm, I am happy to say. But I am perhaps supporting what the Government are doing rather than what the Motion says they are doing. That distinction should be made. It is important in giving support to the Government that one should realise the consequences of their action rather than the qualifications which they perhaps feel it necessary to make to those consequences.
Enthusiasm for civil defence exists in inverse ratio to the urbanisation of the population concerned.
I will come to that in a moment. I was rather impressed by the statement made by the hon. Member for Bridgwater (Sir G. Wills) when he spoke of the great enthusiasm for civil defence in that part of the world, which I would think could hardly be regarded as a highly urbanised society.
While we are talking about those who helped remedy the damage done in Glasgow, are not the plumbers and the slaters just as much entitled to a vote of thanks as anyone else?
I am grateful to my hon. Friend, who is of course correct. My right hon. Friend the Home Secretary has referred to civil defence as an insurance premium. I was once an insurance man. One pays an insurance premium to get cover. No cover is possible in terms of civil defence and this is a fraudulent premium. The cover is not possible and the Government's decision is a recognition of this fact. It is a decision to stop paying the premium because the cover, in the nature of things, cannot be provided. If an insurance company, under these circumstances was to charge a premium for such a policy it would be rightly prosecuted for fraud. It would be a fraudulent proposition.
I greatly welcome the decision tonight because it brings to an end a period of national fraud, in which the population has been sold a false bill of goods, which most of them never accepted because they did not believe in civil defence. I sometimes questioned whether my hon. Friends whose duty it was to present the case really felt as enthusiastic about this as they have hitherto made out, as they have been able to present to us by their skill.
Civil defence in the nuclear age was a factory for the propagation of the most dangerous of illusions—the illusion that it is possible for an industrial society to survive nuclear war. Millions of pounds have been spent in fostering this illusion. If one gives a man a job to do and pays him to do it, he has to assume that it can be done. His is not to reason why. The object of the exercise of civil defence is the survival of the community. The man who has the duty of being responsible to the community for carrying out civil defence in the urban and the country areas must therefore assume survivors.
To make the whole job credible there must be millions of survivors if the job is to be worth doing. So, millions of survivors are assumed. The proposition works from that end, not the other. It is necessary for there to be survivors in order to justify the existence of civil defence. That is why we have had these millions of survivors—they are an act of faith, necessary for the continued existence of this organisation.
Now that the Government have put it to rest, or whatever phraesology they care to use for its virtual and practical disappearance, we will hear rather less of civil survival. Over the years, Ministers of all parties have contradicted themselves in and out of office. Any responsible Minister outside the Home Office will tell one that in the nuclear age the possibility of any large number of survivors is remote indeed.
As we have already heard, the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) dwelt on this in 1965, although lie has tried to explain it away. I do not think that it was a very convincing explanation. The right hon. and learned Member was talking of the excessive vulnerability of this island in a nuclear age. He was saying that maybe the Americans would survive, maybe the Chinese, maybe people in other countries but and he repeated himself, he said that he did not know whether these people would survive all over the world, but one thing that he knew was that we would not survive. That is an unequivocal statement and to suggest that in some way he was talking of the survival of the nation or the survival of individuals is unconvincing.
Another reason why I found the right hon. and learned Gentleman's explanation unconvincing is because he is a very ebullient Member as well as an honest one, and he does not allow himself to be misrepresented. In the debate about which I have spoken my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Defence said, of the right hon. and learned Member:
I do the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone the credit of believing that he was sincere in what he said in the last five minutes of his speech. He talked very seriously indeed about the need for world government. He talked very seriously about what would happen if any thermo-nuclear exchanges took place. He understands these facts. He knows that if we ever loose off this weapon, life on this island would be extnict within three days.—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 4th March, 1965; Vol. 707, c. 1660.]
The right hon. and learned Gentleman would have jumped up and said that my right hon. Friend was misrepresenting him, if this had been so. He would have said that my right hon. Friend was not saying what he had said.
The right hon. and learned Gentleman is of course also a model of courtesy, but whether he would allow his courtesy to overcome his other instincts on that occasion, is a question which all of us will beg leave to doubt.
I was interested in what my hon. Friend is saying. If he assumes that in a nuclear attack everyone is killed, there is no object in civil defence. But would he not agree that whatever devastation there is, there are bound to be fringe areas of the country where there will be people injured and trapped, who may die within two to three weeks from radiation? In the meantime they are there, injured and trapped. Is there no need for civil defence workers from outlying areas, not beaten down, to relieve the agony of these people?
I will deal with this in a moment, because I have considerable sympathy with that point of view. This is the important argument to be put forward in favour of the retention of some form of civil defence.
The consequences of putting a Minister into the Home Office in the past has been that, having been as devastatingly honest as my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was in the case that I have quoted, they then start to blather about millions of survivors. This is a sort of Departmental record and it plays the same tune, whichever Ministerial doll happens to be acting as its ventriloquial dummy. I do not wish to be rude to my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary.
I was referring to a doll in a ventriloquial sense, and in no other sense. We ought to welcome the fact that the dolls have rounded on their masters and smashed the records. As a consequence I find myself wholeheartedly and enthusiastically able to support the Government tonight.
For me, this is not a new matter. In 1958, when I joined the London County Council, I discovered that the civil defence responsibilities which devolved on that Council at that time were totally impossibe of fulfilment. The more I looked into it, the more convinced I became that we could not in fact do what we were supposed to do, and as a result in 1961 I moved, with the support
of the Leader of the London County Council at that time, a motion:
That this Council, while acknowledging that there is no practicable means of providing Londoners with effective defence against thermonuclear war, believes that it should take all precautions to organise rescue operations, in the hope that these might increase the chances of survival of anyone left alive after the first impact, and re-affirms its determination to press the Government for the best possible means to achieve this end.
This was carried, but had no noticeable effect on the Government of the day. An effort was made subsequently to reinforce it, and I moved a resolution which was carried at the annual conference of the London Labour Party:
This Conference supports the L.C.C. in acknowledging that there is no practicable means of providing Londoners with effective defence against thermonuclear attack, and calls upon the L.C.C. to publicise this fact widely and officially and so to inform the Home Secretary.
The resolution concludes with these words:
Conference calls upon Labour-controlled authorities in the Counties of London and Middlesex to adopt a more realistic attitude to civil defence by seeking to convert it into a Civil Emergency Force designed to deal with accidents and disasters.
In 1961 and 1962 we took the point that the work done by the Civil Defence Corps at that time was of value to the community, and everything which has happened since has proved this to be the case.
Why was it that the London County Council came to the conclusion that they could not in fact carry out the functions of civil defence? Some time ago they carried out a detailed investigation of what they were required to do, and in the course of this they assumed that a two-megaton bomb was dropped—conveniently!—in the heart of London, and they discovered that a single bomb of only two megatons, dropped in a central place in that way, could destroy beyond repair a large part of the country and cause damage throughout most of Greater London, besides giving rise to radioactive fall-out, mainly down wind, in the path of which people would have to stay under cover for two or more days to avoid sickness or death.
It adds up to a conclusive statement that any suggestion that it is possible to defend the people of this country against the consequences of a nuclear attack, even of a minor kind, is illusory. We are therefore in a situation where the people of our country are exposed to the possibility of something which, if not extinction, is very close to it. In these circumstances, the argument against maintaining civil defence is very strong, because it involves the pretence of what is in fact an illusory situation, in which people will expect the possibility of defence and will act in the light of the possibility of surviving. It is this which I think is unjustified.
There was a N.A.T.O. exercise in 1962, which was partially designed to test the civil defence arrangements in the countries of the N.A.T.O. area. It was called off before it was finished, due to the dislocation of communications and to "unacceptable devastation" This included 15 million dead—theoretically, of course !—in Southern England. The editors ofDer Spiegel were arrested for reporting the consequences of the exercise in Western Germany. It was never reported in this country in any detail at all. The Government have recognised that the time has come to bring this farcical thing to an end.
I understand that nuclear weapons are only targeted on countries which possess them. The Government have got into an ambiguous position in this matter. There is something to be said for the argument of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who suggest that if we have nuclear armaments in this country we should have some attempt at civil defence, even if we know that it is pretty hopless. That is a comprehensible argument.
The other proposition is that there is no such defence against nuclear war, and the logic of that is that we should rid ourselves of the possession of nuclear weapons on the ground that this is the last country which should possess them, because we are peculiarly unable to defend ourselves against them. We are exceptionally vulnerable. If there is one country in the world which should not possess nuclear weapons it is this one, and we should go the whole hog—I assure the right hon. Gentleman opposite that no pun is intended—and get rid of nuclear armaments.
And did you last time? My last word is this. Nuclear weapons are targeted on those countries which possess them. Ours are targeted by N.A.T.O., though we still retain the independent power to use them. We can obtain the full benefit of our abandonment of defence against nuclear war only by admitting that we are defenceless. Any other argument is senseless. The abandonment of nuclear defence must be followed by the abandonment of our nuclear rôle, and the sooner that is done the safer it will be for us all.
This is contained in the resolution which I read out, in which I recognised the desirability of the continued existence of a force calculated or able to help in industrial defence work. I support very much the idea which has been put forward, that we should encourage local authorities, and if necessary offer them financial help, to maintain in being a voluntary form of help.
I am delighted to hear what the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) says. He seems to be putting a case for the retention of civil defence.
I never expected to have grounds on which to congratulate the hon. Member, but I do so now. The hon. Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) referred to a "package deal". I think there was indeed a package deal and I ask myself what were the ingredients in it, and whether they included this item in order to induce hon. Members opposite to accept prescription charges and the limitation on the supply of free milk to schools. I congratulate the hon. Member for Putney, because he is having his cake and eating it at the same time. He is getting away with supporting the disbanding of civil defence but voting against the other elements in the package. But, with his customary directness and integrity, the hon. Member for Toxteth is observing the package deal. It is not that I approve of the ingredients in the package, but I think that the speeches of those two hon. Gentlemen, taken together, are very revealing.
I do not congratulate the hon. Member for Putney on his naïve view that nuclear weapons are only targeted on countries which possess them. If he believes that, it is an interesting reflection on his state of military knowledge. Nor do I congratulate him on his reference to the "fraudulent prospectus". He must be one of the few people among those who think about these matters who believe that the prospectus is fraudulent. I do not know if he is aware of it, but the Soviet Union pays more attention to civil defence than any other country in the world.
I know that the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) has a great knowledge of these matters, but I wonder whether his knowledge is sound on that point, because I understand that compulsory civil defence training is received by every young man in the Soviet Union.
On Sunday, I had the privilege of taking part in a parade down Whitehall of 2,000 people representing 50 civil defence units from different parts of the country and including contingents of the Auxiliary Fire Service. In that connection, perhaps I might correct another of the comments of the hon. Member for Putney. Those units included very strong elements from Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, London, and Swansea. So much for his argument that enthusiasm for civil defence is particularly a rural matter.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will allow me to correct him on a point. I did not suggest that enthusiasm for civil defence was absent among those engaged in it. However, urban areas are those in which civil defence is most under-manned.
When one takes account of the uncertainty about the future of civil defence and the Auxiliary Fire Service, the enthusiasm and devotion of its members to their job has been remarkable. It has survived the uncertainty of the years between 1965 and 1967 when the whole concept of civil defence was under review. It survived the 25 per cent. cut in expenditure imposed at that time. There is still a determination to find some way of keeping their organisations together.
It is very wounding to be told, as these men and women have been, that they are to be disbanded in spite of their voluntary service. But they are still ready, regardless of what they see as a kick in the teeth from the Government, to try to find some way of carrying on. They have offered to do without their bounty. They believe that cuts can be made in training expenditure. They are prepared to service their own equipment. They think that it would be possible to economise in expenditure on buildings if only the Government showed a readiness to meet them half way.
It is sad to note the difference in attitude displayed by the Labour Government this time towards the willingness of these people to continue to be of service, with the attitude of the Labour Government in 1945. That Government suspended civil defence, but at that time they positively encouraged local authorities to keep alive the interest of the volunteers and look favourably on the possibility of finding them suitable accommodation in which they could assemble.
I am sure that the speech of the Home Secretary today will be a tremendous disappointment to the people, numbering nearly 100,000, engaged in civil defence, the Auxiliary Fire Service and the T.A.V.R. III.
I was not aware of that, but I am not sure that it destroys my argument. Speakers have referred to the peace-time rôle of civil defence and the A.F.S. That is important, but the predominant importance of these organisations rests in the war-time rôle and, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) indicated, I believe that the Government's actions make war more likely rather than less likely.
In the last few months, we have seen the Government destroy the credibility of Britain in a peace-keeping rôle east of Suez. By disbanding the civil defence, they are sapping the credibility of Britain's defence in Europe. It is all very well to talk as if they are concentrating Britain's defence in Europe. If they destroy or seriously weaken the country's ability to defend itself in war on its own home ground. potentially hostile nations will say, These people have not got the guts."
It is ironical that in the very month that the full gravity of the cuts in civil defence have come home to us, we should be testing for the first time the Polaris missile. The Government are devaluing the utility of the Polaris force—
If I may say so, that is an interesting interjection, and I find the Amendment in the name of the hon. Member for South Ayrshire very interesting, as I found the speech of the hon. Member for Putney. They have an ulterior motive in attacking civil defence. I do not know if they were Aldermaston marchers—
I suspected as much. Their objective is to persuade the Government to abandon the nuclear weapons which Britain possesses. The first step is to make Britain's civil defence useless. If Britain does not have a civil defence, the credibility of its nuclear weapons is weakened. The hon. Gentlemen are proving the argument that I have deployed.
Their objective is to get us into a situation where they can argue that it is quite incredible for Britain to be able, willing and prepared to defend ourselves because we have no civil defence, so what is the point in having nuclear weapons—
The hon. Gentleman keeps on referring to me. If he gets together with his right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg), I suggest that he will find that his right hon. and learned Friend has given chapter and verse for our case.
I do not accept that proposition. However, I think that we have had enough debate on that point, and I want to move on.
I want to ask the Under-Secretary of State a question about N.A.T.O. Only two months ago, in December, the N.A.T.O. Ministerial Conference approved a communiqué containing the following words:
Ministers…. approved a report on Civil Emergency Planning. Stressing the vital importance of such planning, they noted the progress which had been achieved and the tasks which remained to be accomplished.
Did the British Ministers represented at that meeting concur in the communiqué? Presumably, they must have. Did they mean what it said? If they did, may I ask what consultation has taken place with N.A.T.O. since December and what has been the result? Did they know at the time that they concurred in the communiqué what were the Government's intentions about civil defence? If so, was it not rather curious that they concurred in that communiqué? Or has the Government's decision about civil defence been cooked up since that conference in the second half of December?
Hon. Members have made a number of points about the possibility of war. Cuba has been referred to. I do not think that Berlin has been referred to. It is relevant too. We must remember that, being a member of N.A.T.O. we share the risks and responsibilities of all members. The question is not simply whether war against this country is likely, but whether war involving any member of N.A.T.O. is likely. It is quite possible for hon. Members to evolve scenarios involving a risk of war to this country perhaps by miscalculation between the Soviet Union and the United States or perhaps involving incidents occurring on the wings of N.A.T.O.
The Home Secretary said that he had been studying closely the nonproliferation treaty. I will pass over the fact that he appeared to think that there are 18 national members taking part, which there are not, which perhaps casts doubt on his knowledge of what is going on, and come to the non-proliferation treaty. This is not something which will improve the situation concerning nuclear weapons. This is a desperate race against time to prevent the nuclear situation getting more dangerous still. It will not deprive the existing nuclear powers of their nuclear weapons.
Indeed, but I think that my point remains valid. I am giving the Home Secretary the point that perhaps the treaty will be signed. But even if it is signed, it will not abolish nuclear weapons.
I was interested that the Home Secretary did not want to be drawn into the question of Chinese nuclear capability. That is a relevant point, but he said that he had not time to go into it. He said that it was a by-path, or something to that effect. It is not a by-path. Every time, the West has been taken by surprise by the rapidity of Chinese nuclear development and her development of the means of delivery, and we may well be surprised again.
The Government seem to think that they will have six months' warning of any crisis. For reasons which have been explained, we do not believe that is the case. But, if they did have six months' warning, do they seriously believe that they will get the volunteers back? I should like the Under-Secretary to deal with this point. Do they expect the civil defence and A.F.S. volunteers to come back? They must realise that this is the second time this has happened to the civil defence in just over 20 years. It does not necessarily follow that if people are kicked in the teeth—that is what these people feel has happened—they will come back readily simply because the Government say that in six months time there may be a crisis. The Government are not right to count on them coming back. It is not good enough for the Government to have names on a list somewhere in a drawer and expect that, if asked, they will all come back.
I now turn to the civilian rôle of the Auxiliary Fire Service. The line taken by the Under-Secretary has been that there is no peace-time rôle for the A.F.S. That may be the theory, but it is not the practice. The A.F.S. has been carrying out a peace-time rôle—
The hon. Gentleman has referred to my theme and it is only right I should be entitled to correct him. What I have said on a number of occasions, including last Sunday when the hon. Gentleman brought the deputation to see me, is that the responsibility for fire cover in any part of the United Kingdom rests entirely with the regular Fire Service. My right hon. Friend and I have paid tribute to the additional services which have been rendered by the A.F.S., but it is established to train for war-time purposes, not for peace-time fire services which are the responsibility of the local fire service.
I was not referring to the interview which the Under-Secretary kindly gave to myself and the deputation last Sunday. I was referring to an answer that he gave to a Parliamentary Question from me. I note what he has just said, but it is a fact that the A.F.S. has been doing a job in civilian conditions. Is this job not to be done in future, or. if it is, who will do it?
I have been told by one chief fire officer, who sent his regular forces to help at the time of the "Torrey Canyon" disaster, that if the A.F.S. is disbanded he will not be able to do the same sort of thing again. That time the A.F.S. unit in his area stood by and was available in case of fires on their home ground. Therefore, he was able to send his regular fire brigade to Cornwall. He would not be able to do that again if the A.F.S. were disbanded.
What will happen in similar circumstances in future if the A.F.S. has gone? The direct fire loss to this country is £90 million a year. Will this loss not get worse if the A.F.S. is disbanded without some organisation to do what it has been doing?
The Under-Secretary has referred on a number of occasions in the House to the fact that we call for civil defence to remain in being, but at the same time ask for economies. To anticipate what he might possibly be intending to say later, might I refer him to the speech of my right hon. Friend the Member for Enfield, West (Mr. Iain Macleod) who said on 17th January, 1968, in col. 1817 of HANSARD, what we would cut to make savings, and the total amount of those cuts is greater than the total amount of Government cuts announced on 16th January.
Perhaps the hon. Gentleman will explain in what way they are incorrect. But let him not assert that we are reluctant to propose any cuts.
The Government claim to be planners. At least they used to claim that. I find it hard to imagine that the Home Secretary, after his three years' experience at the Treasury, would still claim that he was much of a planner. However, there is a difference between his behaviour at that time and his behaviour now. Every time he fell flat on his face over the economic problems of the country so long as he was at the Treasury, he picked himself up and—
I hope, Mr. Speaker, to make the point relevant in a short time. At least at that time the right hon. Gentleman continued to plan. The difference between then and now is that on this occasion the Government are not even pretending to plan for the contingency which up to now they, along with all other N.A.T.O. Governments, have regarded as vitally important to plan for.
I find myself in the interesting and perhaps unusual position of supporting the Government. I have a sneaking suspicion that they have taken the right decision for the wrong reason and that, having done so, they are reluctant to admit it.
Perhaps I should make my own position clear. Unlike my hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), I do not belong to the extreme Left. I am not a pacifist. I have never been a member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Indeed, I accept many of the arguments put forward in the House in favour of a nuclear deterrent. One might ask, therefore, where I differ from hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is simply because I believe civil defence to be a dangerous illusion—a sort of clever con trick played by Governments the world over in an effort to convince people that they might escape in a nuclear conflict.
I speak only for myself. I have no particular knowledge of nuclear warfare. That is a fact. I seek tonight to put the view of a fatalist. I have no desire to survive a nuclear war. I was under the impression that the Government had come to recognise my view, but I was disillusioned at Question Time on 15th February. I had heard that it was dangerous to come to the assistance of a Minister, and I learned my lesson the hard way.
The Under-Secretary of State for the Home Department was under considerable pressure from hon. Gentlemen opposite about the Government's decision on civil defence, and I thought that it might be useful if I offered him some assistance. In my naivety I rose and put this question to him:
Is my hon. Friend aware that many of us on this side of the House are grateful for the fact that the Government have finally shed the dangerous illusion that there is some sort of defence against a nuclear attack?
I received a curious answer. My hon. Friend said:
I cannot accept my hon. Friend's view. It is important that we should have both skill and training available and a system which can be reactivated if the danger were to re occur."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 15th February, 1968; Vol. 758, c. 1553.]
If my hon. Friend is right, and if I am wrong, there is a defence in a nuclear attack. If that is the case, why are the Government tearing civil defence apart?
I am talking about the ill effects. Is it because the Government can find no other way of saving £20 million? If this decision is based on purely financial grounds—and this is the case that I seek to make—they will quite rightly stand condemned by the people of this country. But if it is because there is no hope for civilisation in the event of a nuclear conflict, they should tell the people the truth. In fact they will be doing little more—and this is where we shall disagree—than confirming what the vast majority of people already suspect.
My hon. Friend gave the game away during an Adjournment debate on 22nd February. Asked how long it would take to reactivate the organisation, he replied:
It depends. No doubt it would take some months to bring together all the volunteers and organise the force again…."—[OFFICIIAL REPORT, 22nd February, 1968; Vol. 759, c. 806.]
Is anyone seriously suggesting that any hostile nation would give us that much notice of attack? It is much more likely to be short, sharp, and disastrous, with the civil defence personnel, upon whom so many of our hopes are based, possibly being the first to be wiped out. How would the rest of us manage?
I know that many hon. Members on both sides believe that a nuclear attack would be preceded by months of intensive diplomatic activity during which civil defence plans could be put into action. I do not accept that view for one moment. What happened during the Cuban crisis? We had all that diplomatic activity, certainly not over months, but for a long period—
2014;but we were stuck in the middle of it. The world was nearer to a nuclear conflict than it had ever been before. Did we, in that situation, put all our civil defence plans into operation? We did not. We sat back and did nothing.
I am saying that the diplomatic activity, whatever the initial warning, took place over a period of a week to 10 days. We did nothing about our civil defence capability. We sat back and hoped for the best. I think that it was Bertrand Russell who said that civil defence was a "callous fraud" and he based his argument upon the fact that Governments were not prepared to spend enough money to make it more than marginally useful, but were trying to create the impression that there was a defence. This is what the Government are doing tonight. This is the crux of the matter.
I say in all sincerity that if hon. Gentlemen opposite can convince me that there is a defence, I shall join them in the Lobby. In fact, I will go further. I will join them in demanding from the Government the sort of expenditure that will make this defence credible. I see that one hon. Gentleman opposite agrees with me. At the moment we are doing neither one thing nor the other.
At the time of the Cuban crisis theEconomist talked about the £20 million in these terms:
This is a tiny premium to pay if the force is efficiently organised and if it could really do any good were catastrophe to come to this small, crowded, and (in nuclear terms) indefensible island. But is it—and could it?
In my opinion the answer to both those questions is "No". Why, then, do we deceive ourselves? Why not say to the people of the world that a nuclear war will mean the effective end of civilisation as we know it? Are Governments afraid that the reaction of people would drive them into real disarmament talks? Is that what is behind this reluctance?
There are no strong views about civil defence in this country. I have heard hon. Members saying that they have received masses of letters. I have not had one. The Government's decision has been met with derisory apathy, and I am afraid that it merely reflects the general disinterest of our people. Local authorities always have difficulty in getting members to serve on Civil Defence committees, and corps are usually under strength.
One of the last stories that I did as a journalist before coming to the House was on a Civil Defence Corps in a county town in the Midlands. Its total active strength was one old lady. Civil defence is subjected to a great deal of unfair criticism. I believe this strongly. I know that some of my constituents regard it as a huge joke, a social get-together for those taking part, an occasional weekend on exercise, some holiday money, some free driving licences, and so on. These are the criticisms which, as a journalist, I have had to report over the years.
I do not accept those arguments. The real tragedy of the Government's decision is that thousands of civil defence workers, first class people—and I know many of them—who gave their time and energy to help provide a better society have now been told that they are not wanted. I believe that they are wanted. I would like to see the Government use these people, and this £20 million—it is no more than a conjuror's trick anyway—as a real effective integrated peace-time emergency force. Give them a rôle and not an illusion.
Perhaps I could spend a few moments looking at the realities of civil defence. Government manuals on this subject have done more than anything else to discredit the ideal of civil defence. Civil Defence Handbook No. 8, Emergency Feeding, contains some gems of advice. For example:
Food which is not being prepared by the cooks should be kept in a food store.
My wife keeps food in a food store.
If there is any doubt about food, it should not be used…. Water for washing-up and other cleansing operations must be labelled ' not for drinking '.
And there is a delightful paragraph headed, "Unburnable solids", which begins:
These include tins and bottles.
Some genius wrote that, though it would be difficult to know at whom his advice was directed.
Of course, I could have great fun quoting from the famous civil defence handbook "Advising the Householder on Pro-
tection against Nuclear Attack", which advised the whitewashing of windows. I will quote just one section to show the absolute futility of the whole affair. Under the heading of "Sanitation", we are told:
You should not rely on being able to use your W.C. There might not be enough water to flush it or the sewerage scheme might be damaged.
It recommends that we keep, among many other things, large receptacles with covers and improved seats for use as urinals.
I want to ask hon. Gentlemen opposite, have they got these large receptacles at home? If not, and if they are sincere and honest about civil defence, why not? I should have liked to ask the hon. and learned Member for Solihull (Mr. Grieve) from whose part of the world I come, "Please can I come along at the weekend and have a look at your receptacle? I am very interested. I may not want one, but it is just possible that my wife does."
There is an important matter which relates to my own area. I quote fromThe Timesof 30th January:
The Government is still considering the rôle of thousands of anonymous people who would run the country in an atomic war. In the west Midlands, there are about 200 who would sit out an atomic attack in deep shelters specially dug about the region. They would emerge to begin the task of reorganisation and life-saving. There is no room for wives and children in the shelters.
Who are the fortunate 200? How were they chosen? Can my hon. and learned Friend be sure that they will survive long enough to get into the shelters in the first place? Is it seriously suggested that 200 people could make a serious contribution to running a great industrial conurbation like the West Midlands? I know that one of the main purposes of civil defence is the organisation and replacement of day-to-day government, and they might be able to do the job better than we in this House. Certainly they would organise their affairs better.
Despite that, I believe that the Government have made the right decision, one which took courage and a willingness to face reality. I ask my right hon. Friend to take no notice of hon. Gentlemen opposite, who are still living in a fantasy world of childhood dreams, of toy soldiers and battles we always won. Times have changed, and none of us here can foresee the possibility of a nuclear war. One way to ensure that we are proved right is to convince the rest of the world, leaders and peoples, that there would be no future for any of us. I shall support the Government tonight with relish, because they have gone some way towards that objective.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) said that he was a journalist and I am sure that he was a good one, because his use of the document from which he quoted was very clever. It was a leg-pull and no doubt I could do much the same with a copy of the newly amended Standing Orders of the Parliamentary Labour Party. The instructions from which he quoted are the ideal. In the last war, instructions which seemed dotty at the time were found to be useful when things started falling, such as sticking paper on the glass. As we approached the Cuban crisis, my wife and I consulted the book about tinned foods and so on. That is its purpose for the average citizen.
The hon. Member also pulled the leg of the civil defence by talking about social get-togethers. Such things are a bonus for the organisation, but to use them as a reason for destroying the organisation is wrong. The organisation's strength is that the volunteers have great fun socially but also do a good job—
I am glad that the hon. Member has said that.
He said that civil defence was a confidence trick and an illusion. One could quote examples—for instance, that those on the fringe of a nuclear attack would not be directly and immediately affected and that in these circumstances civil defence could save lives and make the last two or three weeks of the dying that much more comfortable. If civil defence is abolished, the education of people in all this will be abolished as well; and people injured, as I have described, could not be helped.
I am sorry that the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) has gone, since I wanted to take his arm and walk with him down the road from Aldermaston to Trafalgar Square. He said that every nuclear Power was targetted by the enemy; but the non-nuclear Powers were not. When one realises that what he is saying is that West Germany, a non-nuclear Power, is not targetted by the Russians, one realises the gullibility of the C.N.D.
The Under-Secretary said earlier that we are not doing away with civil defence. That is an incredible statement. Without going back to the early hours of this morning, I must confess that we heard much the same thing about the Commonwealth Immigrants Bill, when we were told that it had nothing to do with racial discrimination, when, in fact, of course it had—
I agree, Mr. Speaker, that we had enough of that last night.
In saying that we are not doing away with civil defence, some Ministers have lost the ability to talk with directness and a singleness of purpose. That remark stands matters on their head. I do not entirely blame the hon. Gentleman, since the example for this sort of talk comes from the top of his party.
Clause 4 of the Public Expenditure and Receipts Bill deals with compensation paid to those who will lose their jobs in civil defence. There will be an appointed day at the end of March, I think, and people will be compensated if they are still in the service on that day. But if they should leave beforehand, they may get no compensation. Many of these people are perhaps 50 years old or more and it is hard to get or change a job at that age. So if a man had an opportunity for a job before the appointed day, surely it is right that such a person could accept it without fear of losing his compensation. Therefore, my suggestion would be—and even if the Minister cannot answer it today I would be grateful if he can give it serious consideration—that the appointed day should be the day on which the Prime Minister announced the cuts to the House of Commons, after which all these men, who have served so well in this service, became aware that they would be redundant. Clearly, at that age one has to search around and to take, very gratefully, the first job that comes along. I would be grateful if the Minister could look into that suggestion.
Much has been said about continuing civil defence in a voluntary way and, clearly, that has been dismissed by the Government as something which is simply not on. But the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary mentioned the question of other voluntary organisations such as the St. John Ambulance Brigade, the Red Cross, etc. I am vice-president of my local St. John Ambulance Brigade unit and I know that much of the work they do is typical of the work done by some elements of civil defence.
I wonder if there is scope for looking at the work of organisations like the St. John Ambulance Brigade and the Red Cross to see whether we can put some civil defence work into these organisations and make a bigger, broader and perhaps more useful joint organisation for local disasters. If that is so, could we ask the Government to consider whether they would make an extra financial contribution towards this if the proposal should be found to be worth while and practical?
In Oxfordshire, of which I represent the northern part, the county council has estimated that once the civil defence organisation is completely run down there will be saving of £72,000 a year. That is a saving; but when one considers what has been put at risk for the people of my constituency by that saving one may find, as I find, that the risk is really an incalculable risk particularly when, as has been said so often today, we are allowing the skills and knowledge built up over the years to evaporate. That seems to me one of the most serious aspects of this whole thing.
We in Oxfordshire live in an area which is not very far from certain nuclear places. There was the case of the Windscale Reactor that blew off. There was fall out. If this should happen again, as it happened at Windscale, perhaps on a bigger scale, what organisation has the Government got to cope with such an emergency? There are nuclear power units where this may not happen but if, for example, an armed aircraft should, by misfortune, crash into such a place and there was nuclear fall out, what would the Government do about that? These are the kind of matters which I feel could not have been thought through by the Government when they decided to make this relatively small cut.
There has been quite a lot of talk and argument in this debate on the question of the nuclear deterrent. I do not want to rehearse all the arguments but I believe one of the arguments for having the nuclear deterrent is that it prevents this country being blackmailed by another nuclear power. We come back, therefore, to the idea that the other nuclear power is going to blackmail us and force us to do something we do not want to do. But if our nuclear deterrent—and it is a deterrent—is credible then we are less likely to be blackmailed. But what the winding up of civil defence has done is to make our nuclear deterrent, as has been said by my hon. Friend the Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker), less credible.
This is where we come back to what was said by the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), because all along he and his friends in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament have wished to abolish the civil defence, purely because they wish our deterrent to be less credible because, in my view, they wish to weaken the standing of this country in the world. I do not know whether the answer to this is to be found in an interview given in in the Sunday Telegraphby the Lord President of the Council on 11th February in which he said:
I am convinced that ultimately Britain's role is to be a spokesman of the non-nuclear powers in relation to the super-powers.
If the Lord President of the Council, a high member of the Cabinet and an intimate colleague of the right hon. Gentleman the Prime Minister, is here expounding what is the long-term aim of this Government, then all this, of course, falls into a pattern; and the abolition of civil defence, which reduces the credibility of our nuclear deterrent, falls into the pattern of what the Government is aiming at—that we shall become a non-nuclear Power and the spokesman of the non-nuclear Powers.
Finally, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary gave as his reasons for winding up civil defence firstly, of course, the budgetary ones—the financial situation. That we accept; and the whole Government has accepted that the cuts and devaluation and the financial situation is entirely—and I repeat, entirely—their own responsibility. The Chancellor of the Exchequer observed, and the Prime Minister said on television, that it was a defeat—for their policies. That is fine. We accept that it is.
The second reason he gave was that the non-proliferation treaty was coming along nicely and would shortly be signed and therefore we had no need to go on with civil defence. If that is so, then, as I believe my right hon. Friend asked in…. opening, what is being done about civil defence by the other NATO countries who will also be in this…. nonproliferation treaty? Have they done the same? Have they taken the same decisions? The answer is no. I believe, therefore, that the House can dismiss, that reason given by the Home Secretary for winding up civil defence.
The third reason he gave was that tension in the world was being eased; and he said as long as the United States of America remains in Europe we are all right. But we have got out of the Far East and the Middle East because of a financial crisis. That was part of the package cuts. The Americans are having a financial and balance of payments crisis and it does not stop; it goes on and gets worse. Could there not possibly come a time when, for financial reasons, the Government of the United States takes the same steps as the British Government has taken and gets out of Europe? I am not saying that that is probable but it is a possibility and if that is so then the whole argument that tension in Europe has eased totally falls to the ground; so that I believe that we as a responsible Parliament can dismiss that argument of the Home Secretary as a rather silly excuse dredged up to try to pad out the real excuse, which is financial.
If we accept that the reason is financial then surely the logic of it is that this package deal and all these most troublesome things which have been fought out night after night on the benches opposite are only being done because the Prime Minister and his Government believe that they are going to be successful; and we are told that by about 1970 or 1971 all will be well. We believe this, for reasons other than purely economic ones. But, if that is so, and if the reason for abolishing civil defence is financial then surely the logic is that when our economy is again booming, when we have the resources and feel well off—and if we dismiss the other contemptuous and spurious arguments—an assurance should be given that civil defence will be brought back when we can afford it.
I intervened briefly, having been stimulated into speaking by some of the remarks of hon. Gentlemen opposite. When listening to them, I have been reminded of the voluntary work which I have been doing for many years, particularly in the hospital service. In reminiscing, I assure hon. Members that I will not go nearly as far as the hon. Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten). I merely wish to point out that voluntary work can be extremely valuable. For about 45 years I have been engaged in the hospital service, both as the chairman of hospital management committees and governor of hospitals.
I recall that in the early days of being a member of hospital management committees, medical representatives—they were called specialists then; we now call them consultants—would appear before us asking for permission to buy tremendously expensive pieces of equipment. They told us that many people would die if this equipment were not provided. We used to designate the procedure as "flapping the shroud in front of a lay committee", and I regret to say that the granting of those requests would have resulted in some extravagances which we could not afford then and which we cannot afford now.
I intervene not to discuss the financial implications but to comment on the speeches made by my hon. Friends the Members for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), for Rugby (Mr. William Price) and for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw). Although the arguments deployed by my hon. Friend the Member for Toxteth were somewhat different from those adduced by my two other hon. Friends, they were all on common ground, and I accept their premise.
I do not believe that we are serving the nation's interest by deceiving the public into believing that there is any real defence against a nuclear war. It might be possible for some lives to be saved and I hope I hat, in the unlikely event of a nuclear conflict, that would happen. However, with the structure of the civil defence system as we have known it up to now, I do not believe that it could make a significant contribution, although it would, of course, be of considerable help.
Last year we had a terrible aircraft disaster in the town which I represent, and many people were killed. At that time the House paid tribute to the fire services, the ambulance brigade, the hospital workers and the police. Perhaps I was responsible for our omitting to pay tribute to the Auxiliary Fire Services and the civil defence workers of the area who worked manfully during the disaster. I have since made searching inquiries and, from authentic sources, have obtained a record of the hours worked voluntarily by these people. Although these voluntary workers may have had club and social interests in belonging to those movements, they were available and, within minutes of the disaster, were on the spot. They played a noble part in trying to rescue people and in helping to maintain calm when panic might have broken out in the town.
It is against this background that the Government should consider the whole problem of organisations of this type. I will vote for the abolition of the Civil Defence Corps because I believe it to be an anomaly. However, I would prefer to be voting for the setting up of an emergency corps which, nationally and locally, would be available whenever a disaster befell the nation. In the past we have called on our civil defence and auxiliary fire service volunteers to do certain jobs for which they have not been trained. They perform those tasks remarkably well. However, it would be valuable if we had an emergency corps which was divided into representative branches and able to cope with, for example, the mercantile marine, traffic accidents on the roads and railways and even aircraft disasters like the one that occurred in my constituency.
I have promised the civil defence and Auxiliary Fire Service people in my con stituency that I would put forward this view in the House. I hope that the Minister will set aside the advice he receives from what I regard as one of the most pernicious Departments of Government—not merely the present but former Governments—and consider this matter afresh. In making these remarks I have no desire to attack the officers of the Department. The trouble with the Ministry is that it is hidebound with tradition and conservatism—leaving aside the whole question of the Foreign Office. I hope that the problem will be looked at again with the idea of using those who are prepared to give their time voluntarily, but in a central organisation which would transform the present set-up into something really useful and which would be available for the nation at a moment's notice.
It is a pleasure to speak following the hon. Member for Stockport, South (Mr. Orbach), who is my neighbour. I am pleased to be associated with the remarks he made about the work that was done voluntarily at the time of the Stockport crash. That work was done by volunteers from both his and my constituency.
The hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) and the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) said that they had not received any letters on this subject. I have received almost 30. A great many people in my area are interested in this subject and since the 100,000 inhabitants are all literate, nearly 30 of them decided to write to me. I freely confess that the letters have all been on one side. However, they have been written by people who have not been protesting violently about any change in the nation's attitude towards civil defence but have been pointing to their circumstances because they feel that, although they were doing something useful for the nation, that work is suddenly being cut off. They are saying, in effect, "If what we have learnt to do has been useful but is no longer useful, cannot we be taught to do something else that would be useful?" Public-spiritedness of that kind should not be frustrated. Perhaps some of the ways in which they have served have not been as useful as all that, but the fact remains that they have obtained great social and community benefit out of doing the work, some of it genuinely useful.
I do not want to discuss what might happen in the event of a nuclear war and what part civil defence might have to play. I am not competent to make such a judgment. Even the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said that the Government had to rely on the expert advice they received from the civil servants in the background on many aspects of this matter. That being so, a mere back bencher cannot hope to give a critical assessment of the technical points involved. I do not want to get bogged down in these arguments, nor do I believe that the average hon. Member can properly assess the strategic considerations involved.
In considering the question of civil defence generally, one must approach it in two ways. The first is to ask if it will be needed to the extent that it is said that it is likely to be required. This, too, is a purely speculative matter and I do not believe that any of us can answer that question with accuracy. I should like to feel that it will never be required, but one cannot say that with confidence. The other aspect is, if it is required, will it be of any use? If we could answer both questions with "No", we could say that the whole business is futile and there is no point in continuing with it, but I doubt whether we can say that, at least with the kind of conviction that has been suggested in this debate.
On the general question of whether there is a defence against nuclear attack, we have tended to think in the wrong way. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Putney that even the whisper of an idea that there could be a kind of defence would in some way have a damaging effect on the community. It was suggested that people would throw caution to the wind and peaceful folk would become warlike. That is a gross exaggeration. It would indeed be folly if those in charge of our public affairs and those who have to make crucial decisions about warlike gestures and so on, adopted a general assumption that a nuclear attack did not matter. It would be folly to talk in that way or to have the idea that there is such irresponsibility in the community.
We have to measure these things in terms of value to the people who rely upon them. It was suggested by an hon. Member opposite that this was a kind of fraud. I do not accept that. To bring together people who have a feeling that they can do something useful may not be of great practical benefit, but some kind of benefit is involved. It was suggested by the hon. Member for Rugby that if there were a nuclear war he would not want to survive. I am inclined to take the same view. If the world descended to that kind of thing it would be a kind of world that I would not want to live in. Nevertheless, when some people's lives are in immediate doubt their attitude becomes entirely different. People tend to cling on to life in a tenuous fashion. I do not say that this is a useless and profitless thing.
If the hon. Gentleman for Rugby takes the view that the world is so mad that he does not want to be in it and if I take that view, we are not entitled to judge the situation as from the point of view of others.
We are getting to a stage in which an hon. Member addressing the House is almost as likely to fall asleep as those who are listening to him. I shall not therefore follow that point but I shall get on with the argument.
Will the hon. Members think of another point? We are very apt to talk about ourselves when making decisions about the effect of nuclear war, but we should also remember that the vast proportion of the population are not yet of an age to think along the lines the hon. Member is adopting. They cannot take any decision. We have to think of them.
Yes, I think of them, and I hope that we all constantly do so. I do not take the view expressed by some hon. Members on this side of the House. We are not discussing defence but civil defence, which is slightly different. I do not sleep any sounder in my bed because we possess a nuclear deterrent. I do not think it gives me any greater security, but we are not talking about that, we are talking about civil defence and what should be provided.
As the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone said, if we had such a catastrophe, it is possible that we would not survive. He explained that he used the term "we" in the sense of British society as a whole, but he also made clear that he thought individuals would survive in conditions of very considerable horror and suffering. Even if one is not able to assist them to survive for any length of time, some kind of training in the community as a whole would do a certain amount to reduce the suffering which would arise in those circumstances. I have taken the view for some time that civil defence is in itself a very marginal thing. It may help people on the fringe of such a catastrophe, or in a lesser catastrophe it could play a certain part. On the whole it is much more of a morale building effort for the people involved.
Another side to this matter is the question of the possible use of these services in a civil rôle. This is the kind of thing which is suggested in the letters I receive, not from those who say that our whole defence system has been destroyed by this decision, but from those who believe that from time to time they are able to do something useful. We must not look at this matter from a rigidly statistical point of view. It is the same with first aid. Because there are not many accidents, first aid is not useless. It is useful to have people trained in such a way that they can at least approach a problem of this kind with the necessary knowledge and confidence if a disaster occurs. That does not mean that their training has been useless if the disaster does not occur. The greater the proportion of the population trained in first aid for dealing with crises of one kind or another and avoiding situations of panic, doing the kind of jobs done by members of the civil defence, the better it is for the community in a whole number of ways.
It will have become clear that my view of civil defence is rather different from the idea of establishing regional seats of government and having some kind of special defence to preserve some special element in the community in special circumstances. Those who write letters to us and worry about what is to happen to them, I think, feel very much the same way. This applies particularly to the Auxiliary Fire Service. For these people clearly there is a civilian rôle which they can be fulfilling all the time. They wonder why this activity should suddenly be cut off.
The Government's reason is on grounds of cost. We have heard how much the cost is. Lord Stonham explained in detail something about the cost. The Under-Secretary has explained that a number of people had come forward with an offer to do away with the bounty and virtually to give their services for nothing. When one looks at the figures one sees that the cost is very marginal. In terms of money, we shall be saving very little, but we shall be sacrificing very much in terms of public spiritedness and a considerable degree of expertise.
The hon. Gentleman for Rugby referring to a book, of which he did not give us the exact source, cast a certain amount of ridicule on civil defence in general. I agree with him that many of the textbooks do read in that way. For 15 years I held a post as part-time medical officer and adviser to one of Her Majesty's Ordnance factories, a very large one, in which I was responsible for civil defence in the factory on behalf of the Ministry of Defence. I had to study all the manuals and documents as they came out. I entirely agree that some of them were utter nonsense. One dicovered this, and then they changed and became adapted one way or another. The fact remains that, as the years went on, the people who were trained, in particular the Ministry of Defence constabulary, ambulance drivers, and people of this kind, learnt new kinds of expertise which I do not regard as being wasted; things for which there is a possible civilian use in terms of various emergencies which we can all envisage occurring from time to time and which have been quoted in different parts of the House.
Although much of that kind of training I regarded as perhaps a little unreal, much of it also seemed to me to be highly relevant to new developments, and it seemed that much of it certainly had an influence upon their attitudes to new kinds of situations. This has assisted them and perhaps made them more highly-trained individuals, even in a society in which there are no attacks and no need for civil defence in the ordinary sense.
My attitude to this is perhaps rather different from that of some of the hon. Members on this side of the House; it is also rather different from that of some of the hon. Gentlemen on the other side. I cannot see why the Government do not wish to make use of something which is clearly of value. I do not think we have considered this aspect in as much detail as we ought.
There is one point on which I hope perhaps we may have an answer. Civil defence personnel employed on the staff of local authorities, as I understand it, lead to the local authorities being in receipt of a grant, a direct repayment in terms of their remuneration or a percentage of it. I think that the figure is 70 per cent.
I am also given to understand—and certainly my own observations have confirmed this—that many of these people have spent part of their time doing civil defence work and part of their time doing other work. I am not suggesting this is improper in any way; I am not suggesting they were running around watering the town clerk's hollyhocks or anything of this kind. I am suggesting that a person who is in civil defence with a local authority may very well be doing certain routine jobs for that local authority which are associated in a way with civil defence, but I think there is a continuing need. They may have been put down as entirely civil defence and, because a grant was given to the local authority in respect of them, the local authority will be in some difficulties when it finds that it has to dispense with these people. It will have to take on new individuals to undertake certain of the functions which they are now fulfilling. This applies, too, in certain areas, with regard to the fire services.
We know about the deficiencies in the fire services; public services are below establishment almost all over the country. In some areas they have managed very well indeed because of the association with the Auxiliary Fire Service. If the Auxiliary Fire Service is to be disbanded, surely we are not helping but exaggerating and making worse a position which at the moment is difficult.
The hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker), who referred to the fact that fire damage at the moment is running at the rate of over £90 million a year, is not counting loss due to loss of production and so on. These are serious matters. We have people all over the country who are ready and willing to help. They agree that some of the old concepts and old ideas of civil defence are out of date; they are quite willing to make changes. They cannot make the changes on their own as individuals, but they look to the Government, to the Home Office and the local authorities and say, "Very well, if our rôle has gone, provide us with a new rôle. We are ready to do it, to learn and to work." It is a perfectly reasonable request. It is not war-mongering; it is not an attempt to make people feel that they are under a complete umbrella and that they have no need to worry about nuclear warfare. It is a matter of providing an outlet for public-spiritedness, providing a use for a considerable degree of expertise.
Finally, may I say that we, in my party, cannot in all conscience, vote for this Government Amendment. One reads this document expressing its appreciation of the services of the members of the civil defence forces and Auxiliary Fire Service, recognising the great value of their contribution and so on. In token of this appreciation, of this recognition, of this great value, the Government, for no real benefit I can see, says, "We will now dispense with these services and do away with them altogether". That seems to be an extraordinary attitude. I and my hon. Friends cannot support the Government in that line.
I enjoyed the speech of the hon. Member for Cheadle (Dr. Winstanley) speaking on behalf of the Liberal Party. His was a very interesting argument which I very much appreciated, that we needed ambulances, fire services and people to organise themselves in moments of national emergency and that, generally, all this could be done by extending the normal health services of the local authority.
But this is really nothing to do with the concept of civil defence that we have been trying to discuss in this House for many years. I say "trying" because, for many years, when I was in opposition, I used to ask the Leader of the House when the Conservative Party were in power, "When are we going to have a day for civil defence?". We never got it. Now, suddenly, the Opposition moves a Motion of censure. I have never seen a less convincing and less inspiring Motion of censure debate, and it almost makes me wonder whether I was right in asking for the debate at all, after all these years.
However, it will be a welcome change this week to go into the Lobby on the same side as the Government. I am sorry that I will not have the support of the Liberal Party; we have been working very well as a sort of united front during this week and I am afraid, on this, I must part company and put up a vigorous case in defence of Government policy. It is the first occasion for a very long time that I have tabled an Amendment congratulating the Government. If hon. Members knew the effort I had to summon up to do that, they would realise that I approach these debates with a certain amount of objectivity.
I have seen these various plans for civil defence evolve throughout the years. I have not had time to read the Defence White Paper this year, but civil defence was usually tacked on as a sort of postscript to the Defence White Paper. The Defence Estimates are usually, perhaps, £1,000 million or £2,000 million, and a sort of footnote, £20 million or so, is added on the end for civil defence.
Surely, if civil defence means anything, it is the defence of the civil population. We have seen all sorts of changes in what it was said the Government should do and how civil defence would work under successive Governments. The right hon. Member for Streatham (Mr. Sandys) was not a bad Minister of Defence compared with some of them, because when he held that office there were drastic schemes for reductions in defence. He was not by any means the worst Minister of Defence we have had.
We asked, "What will you do in the event of atomic warfare?" The atomic bomb and the hydrogen bomb changed civil defence outlook completely. Instead of the old kind of air raid shelter and the warnings which were familiar in the 1939– 45 war, there was a completely new situation. The right hon. Member for Streatham had a wonderful plan for the evacuation of the civilian population. If atomic bombs were dropped, the civilian population was to be evacuated. That was the watchword of the Home Office at that time—evacuate the civil population.
To demolish that theory it was only necessary to ask "Where?" I remember asking that question, and one unfortunate hon. Gentleman said, "To the Highlands of Scotland". Four million people were to be evacuated to the Highlands. I pointed out that there were no houses in the Highlands to accommodate 4 million people. Year after year I asked, "How are the evacuation plans getting on?" The Home Office and the Scottish Office had some formula to the effect that they were being considered, or that consultations were being held and the evacuation scheme was going through a process of change. It is not only a process of change now. It is change and decay. We hear no more about the evacuation of the civilian population.
I want to ask a few questions about the position in Scotland. I hope that the Under-Secretary who is responsible for agriculture, prisons and civil defence in Scotland will try to give me a picture of what the Scottish Office thinks would happen in the event of an atomic war. As a result of recent developments in Scotland, the West of Scotland is one of the most dangerous places in the world. This is because of the Polaris submarine programme, for which the base has been developed at considerable expense.
One assumes that, if there are to be any strategic plans, the bases of the other country will be destroyed. In the last war we heard about submarine bases in Germany being bombed. They were not very safe places to live in. The bases were in danger and so was the population around them. When the first American Polaris ship came to the Holy Loch some of us, including members of the Labour Opposition Front Bench, were worried about it and asked whether this would not mean that the West of Scotland was in a dangerous situation because of the possibilities of a so-called enemy attack.
We managed to squeeze in a debate on a Friday afternoon. We were arguing about whether the West of Scotland was more dangerous as a result of the American ship coming there. The hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire (Sir F. Maclean) said that it did not matter much whether the American ship was in the Holy Loch or in the Clyde or anywhere else in the West of Scotland because one megaton bomb dropped on Glasgow would wipe out everything within a radius of 100 miles. A radius of 100 miles from Glasgow covers the whole industrial belt and includes the constituency of my hon. Friend the Under-Secretary of State for Scotland and my own constituency. It goes right down to Carlisle. It includes Edinburgh. It goes as far north as Aberdeen. This was the estimate of the hon. Member for Bute and North Ayrshire, who has great experience of military affairs. If the whole of the West of Scotland is to be obliterated, where would the civil defence be? We have never been able to get an answer to that question.
That was seven years ago. The destructive power of the nuclear bomb has increased since then. We are told that it is 10 times more powerful. Such has been the development of the destructive power of the nuclear weapon that every Government in the world realise that, in the event of an atomic war, those who pressed the button would be committing suicide.
Given that situation, what about civil defence? The reasoning behind my Amendment is that the more provocative a country is in its foreign policy and the more weapons it has as so-called deterrents, the more dangerous that country makes itself. That is precisely what has happened in Scotland. I would like some credible authority to give me a picture of what would happen to the West of Scotland if a bomb dropped which was 20 times more powerful than the bomb we were talking about seven or eight years ago. The strategy of nuclear warfare has changed and is changing every month.
It has been said that Russia is the most advanced country for civil defence. I have moved about Russia a great deal and have talked with Russians. I have asked them, "Have you any civil defence?" They have replied, "A few people go about giving lectures and handing out leaflets, but there is no real defence". The Russian way of trying to counter the strategy of the other man is to develop the rocket. We now know that on pressing a button rockets can go up over the world and one or two nuclear bombs could put this country out of action.
I do not know how many hon. Members have visited Japan. Last year I was fortunate enough to visit both Nagasaki and Hiroshima. There I heard descriptions of what happened when the flash came and those two large industrial cities were almost wiped out in a few minutes. The suffering of the survivors was indescribable. Even today it is tragic to listen to the people who suffered as a result of the atomic bomb.
A country which is preparing to attack another country becomes subject to greater danger itself, because the other country may have the theory of retaliation, too, and the result is that the country making the preparation is subject to more danger than ever. As a result of pursuing the arms race, we are in a position of the maximum amount of danger with the minimum amount of protection.
The United States of America has a very expensive air raid shelter system in innumerable big cities. We are nearer to the Russian bomb than the Americans, but America has spent an enormous amount of money on civil defence. We are the sitting duck, and although we have spent this enormous amount of money during the last decade or so, our civil defence is much less effective than that of the United States of America. Every city in America has now got an anti-ballistic missile system. There is controversy in Detroit as to why it cannot be defended in the same way as Washington, and Washington is asking why some other American city is getting more money for civil defence. Although we are spending this enormous amount of money which puts us in so much danger, we are cutting down our civil defence.
The launching of our first atomic missile off the American coast took place the other day. We sent a piper of the Royal Scots Greys to celebrate the event by playing the lament, and, as the piper played the Polaris in, we are playing civil defence out. The natural corollary is that the Government should not dismiss the civil defence people who I do not believe are doing a great deal of harm, though they have been spending a certain amount of money.
Civil defence is not like the Admiralty. The Admiralty is a powerful vested interest. When it decides to have money it puts on pressures and uses publicity, and we spend this enormous amount of money, £350 million, on the Polaris submarine programme. Why not take a bite out of that? On the West Coast of Scotland we are spending £45 million on the base, which results in increasing the danger. I suggest that the Government, instead of nibbling at this economy, should have gone for a reduction in the moneys that we are wasting on the Polaris programme.
I hope this will be backed up by a foreign policy. In the propaganda document of the Polaris I find the boast that one of these missiles can travel to Lake Baikal. That happens to be in Siberia. This adds to international tension, so the Russians waste their money on Polaris and killer submarines, and we do the same. I suggest that the Government should carry the argument to its logical conclusion--cut down nuclear weapons, cut down on arms, and endeavour to find a way of making people in other parts of the world realise that this country is not out to attack them. I do not believe the Russians want to attack us. I do not believe that we want to attack them, but we are following this vicious path and we are both spending enormous sums of money on the arms race at a time when the money and energy should be spent on raising the standard of life for the people.
This is a sort of curtain raiser to the Defence Estimates which are to be discussed next week. All I hope is that the Government will pursue this line of economy against the vested arms interests—against the Air Force, against the Admiralty, against the Army chiefs—and, although they have taken up this strong attitude against the little civil defence people, that they will take a strong line in that direction also.
There is the famous incident in the "Pickwick Papers" in which the Pickwickians were involved in a fight in one of the little villages near Dingley Dell. We are told that Mr. Winkle took off his coat and went for the smallest boy he could see. This is what the Government are doing—taking off their coats and going for the small boy of civil defence. Let them have the courage to tackle the big ones.
I will not follow the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes) into the extremely interesting history of the Pickwick Club. The analogy he drew may or may not have been related to our present debate. Had I been a constituent of his, after listening to the speech he has made to the House, I should be filled with deep apprehension indeed and be wondering why the hon. Gentleman was, even at this late stage, supporting his hon. and right hon. Friends on the Treasury Bench in the Lobby.
He has asked for the abolition of the Polaris missile. He has asked for a different foreign policy, and there is not a hope of getting either as he knows well.
If it takes as long for the hon. Gentleman's points to be achieved as it has taken to withdraw from east of Suez I am sure the hon. Gentleman's constituents would prefer to have the cover of some civil defence organisation in the interim period and would think it valuable if the hon. Gentleman would come into the lobbies with us.
The speech to which I would wish to give my fullest support in this debate was that of my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) who, in superb language, said exactly what all of us on this side are thinking, and what many civil defence workers are thinking also. I found the speeches of the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price) and the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) of extreme interest. I could not for a moment accept the philosophy of fatalism on which they based many of their arguments, nor could I accept the philosophy that, because a nuclear explosion is going to be a most terrible catastrophe and this country may be more vulnerable than most to nuclear attack, we should just sit down and do nothing about it at all. There is some logic in the argument that we should be purely pacifist, opt out of our world commitments, and have no nuclear bombs. Then there might be a case for saying, "We shall not attack anybody, and therefore nobody will attack us", though in the world as we know it that is a very doubtful proposition. But that is not the situation. Ministers have said time and time again that we are playing our part as a world Power, particularly a European Power, and we are playing our part in a nuclear age in which, however horrible or terrible the nuclear threat may be, it is something we must take into account.
The Home Secretary made what I thought was a peculiarly weak defence of his position. He admitted that the risk was still there, and no responsible Minister can say that there is no risk today. Of course, there is a risk. I should like briefly to deal with the theory of the insurance policy. When we take out insurance as individuals we pitch the size of our premium to what we consider to be the degree of risk, and as that degree is reduced so it is right and prudent to reduce the premium. As I understand it, that is what the Government did last year. In their Defence White Paper of 1967 they said on civil defence:
The future rôle of the Corps will be to help the local authorities to man the control system, which is the system of government in emergency, and to provide limited numbers of specialists to help to organise the first aid and welfare resources of the community. The new role of the Corps will be of great importance, and there will be a continuing need to attract people of high calibre, with qualities of leadership.
That was the position taken up by the Government about nine months ago. Then we heard that they had completely changed their policy and had determined totally to abolish the civil defence services. Do not let us play about with hypocritical words about reducing the level. There is no reduction in level; it is total abolition. The training centres are to be torn down, the people in uniform are to be sacked and there will be nothing left. The very name, civil defence services, will be banished from the Statute Book. It is nothing but gross hypocrisy for a Minister to say that the
Government are reducing the level of the services.
This vitally important policy decision has been made in the past nine months. What has happened in that time to justify such a change of view? Has there been a greatdémarchein world affairs? Is the U.S.S.R. less aggressive or expansionist than it was nine months ago? The U.S.S.R. is now entering the Mediterranean, where it was not present nine months ago. The world today is highly explosive. Whatever minimal protection our defence arrangements may give, it is totally irresponsible of a Government entirely to wipe them out, and to do it for a matter of £13 million or £14 million.
It is people's lives that the right hon. Gentleman is playing with. He is taking these measures for entirely the wrong reasons. I do not believe that he has for a moment weighed up the value of, or the need for, a civil defence service. He was told by the Chancellor of the Exchequer that he had to cut expenditure, so he sought to do it with the least damage to his Department. When he gave reasons for the measures this afternoon, there was not a single argument that carried weight. At one point he said that he was now of the opinion that we would have a much longer warning than in former times if a nuclear attack was likely to hit this country, but he never gave us any evidence for this new idea. He said it in a somewhat halfhearted manner, and I had the impression that he said it merely to get himself out of the difficulty of having to admit that he was scrapping civil defence and that no possible valid, reasonable arrangements could be made in less than six months.
The hon. Member for Rugby, in a speech full of interest, said that he would go into the Division Lobby with the Conservative Party tonight if he felt that his right hon. Friend was introducing the measures for the wrong reason. It sticks out a mile that the only reason they are being introduced is that the Treasury told the Home Department that so many millions of pounds had to be saved. That is a totally irresponsible and wrong reason for abolishing a service that has served this country well and could form the small nucleus of trained people that we shall require so badly if ever there is a national crisis.
Another aspect of the matter has been debated, and I believe that it is one of the greatest importance. In recent years, the civil defence services have almost begun to look on themselves as forming a civil defence service in the widest sense. The thought of nuclear attack has been in the background of the minds of even the most ardent volunteers. They felt that it might happen, and like all of us they hoped it would not, and believed that it would not. But as the thought of nuclear attack has possibly receded with the risk, so the conception of a body of volunteers in uniform, supported by the State, who will step in at times of local catastrophe and emergency has grown and played a valuable and important part in local life.
It is the passing of that side of civil defence that I regret so deeply, when these measures tear down the whole structure. As my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone said, in an urban and technical society such as we live in today when catastrophes occur they do so on a vast scale. Railway trains travelling at over 100 miles an hour and aeroplanes that will carry 500 people at great speeds can create catastrophes which need all the resources that we can bring to our aid. It is a tragedy that the civil defence services are being torn down when they could do such a magnificent job in that regard.
Do not let us forget that, more and more, we are developing nuclear fuel for power stations. Who is to say that some major leak might not occur, that we shall not have areas of the country affected by fall-out? It could well happen. If it did, we should be only too glad of the services of these voluntary bodies.
I do not believe that we have been given a single valid reason why these services should be abandoned. The Government Amendment contains words of praise for the volunteers who have served our defence services well. I do not think that they will appreciate those words very much. Yesterday, their services were said to be of the highest importance to the country; today they are told that they are not necessary. I do not think that they will lend any great weight or appreciation to the somewhat hypocritical thanks which the Government have included in the Amendment.
I hold in my hands the Statement on the Defence Estimates for 1968– 69. They tell me that we are budgeting for an estimate which has increased on last year's. Our total budget for defence and all that is associated with it runs to the sum of £2,271 million, an excess over our budget for last year. At the same time, I have the Order Paper which tells me that the Government propose to make a reduction in the level of civil defence. and to me that is rather a sad contradiction.
We are reducing the amount to be spent on the defence of the civilian community at the same time as we are increasing the sum to be spent on defence services which necessarily involve a vast amount of destruction. We are doing this at a time when the experts tell us that one nuclear bomb destroys everything completely within an area of 3,140 square miles, so that 28 nuclear bombs would destroy entirely everything within the 88,000 square miles comprising Great Britain.
These are the hard facts of the situation. They are difficult to mitigate and, in my view, our plight, however much we may deplore the expenditure on military means, will not be helped in any way by a reduction in what we are spending on the level of civil defence. But it is not so much the level of civil defence that I want to look at as its nature, because I served on the Estimates Committee for most of the Conservative Government's existence. I was on Sub-Committee C, under the excellent chairmanship of the hon. Member for Aldershot (Sir E. Errington).
During that period, we conducted a number of investigations. I hope they were useful. I am not sure that they produced many changes. One of those investigations was into civil defence and it is of that inquiry that I want to speak in particular. After many months of questioning and meeting all the authorities associated with civil defence, I suppose we met the fate that so many of our Committees meet in the House—a brief two hour debate.
I hope the right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) will reflect on the fact that his own Government, when they had the power to do so, could not provide us with more than two hours to investigate the subject which has agitated him and so many of us today. The most disappointing aspect was that after the very short debate of two hours dealing with months of work, the then Home Secretary, now in another place, had to be castigated by my right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds, South-East (Miss Bacon) who said that his speech:
… showed a good deal of contempt for the Committee's work."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 6th March, 1964; Vol. 694, c. 1388.]
Our attempt to inquire fruitfully into this subject did not receive a great deal of attention from the then Government. One of the subjects at which we looked was the civil defence handbook, a guide for those in the service. We discovered that it was distributed free to the police, the fire services and members of the civil defence organisation, but not to the general public, who will be most severely and widely affected by the lack of civil defence. The public require to know what should be done in the event of a nuclear attack, but they had to pay 9d. if they wanted to discover what they must do to secure their own future in such an event.
We recommended to the Government that if they were interested in the survival of the people, the handbook should be distributed freely to all who wanted it. That was rejected. There could be no free distribution of the knowledge which might help the population to survive. We were assured that the handbook would be revised from time to time in the light of changing circumstances. Has it been so revised? It was issued in 1963. Is there any mention of the fire power now being used in Vietnam, showing that circumstances of war have changed profoundly?
We are told that as much fire power has been showered so far on Vietnam as was used in the whole of the last war—a fundamental change; and yet on inquiry today I found that the Home Office still distributes the booklet which shows how the population could help to preserve its existence—a booklet issued at a cost of 9d. in 1963. Today the same handbook is still being given out—I hope now free, though I could not find that out—in the face of circumstances which have vastly changed.
The booklet tell us that water is more essential to life than food. I think that we shall all agree on that. But air is more essential than either food or water, because we can live for three weeks without food and for three days without water, but for only three minutes without air.
We are told what to do to prevent a shortage of water, a substance which can be seen. Yet we are not told what to do in the event of air contamination by radiation, which can be neither seen nor felt nor heard, and possibly not even smelt. People are advised to fill their baths with fresh water. What about the thousands of homes in Britain which are still without baths? In Scotland the position is very bad in this respect, yet the householder is instructed to fill his bath with water.
Sanitation is another thing which must be carefully preserved. We could not rely, we are told, on being able to use the W.C.; there might not be enough water to flush it, and the sewerage system might be damaged. In Scotland today, which is being given this advice now on how to preserve its population in the event of nuclear attack, of the households of one and two rooms, 80 per cent. lack or share a fixed bath and 74 per cent. lack or share a W.C. A Scottish housing survey issued last year under the chairmanship of Mr. J. B. Cullingworth shows that at the moment 273,000 houses need to be demolished quickly and 193,000 have only a short life of from 15 to 29 years. So that nearly half a million houses in Scotland need to be replaced in the near future, because they have neither a W.C. nor the room for it.
This is the position which can arise and which is inherent and factual in this debate today. We are dealing with civil defence, and this must include all the means and all the instructions which are necessary to ensure the survival of our people.
I am quoting from a House of Commons handbook on civil defence which tells people what they must do in the event of a nuclear attack if they want to survive. People are advised to
Keep the things listed below "—
and I shall be reading them out—
in the fall-out room.
Where is the fall-out room when one lives in a single room or a room and kitchen, as thousands of people are living at the moment?
People are advised to keep the things in the fall-out room, as I said,
or within easy reach outside the door.
Then we find the list:
Large receptacles with covers and with improvised seats to use as urinals "—
outside one's door!
I would remind my hon. Friend that these things were managed by a great many people just prior to 1939 for their defence against aerial bombardment. I agree that that is not comparable with this eventuality. However, it was possible for things to be done.
I am sure that no one in this House will try to compare what happened in the last war with what conceivably could happen in the event of nuclear war. There is no comparison, for the simple reason that social circumstances have changed, I believe in a downward direction, and the difficulty of doing these things is greater than it used to be. We are asked to do them in times of peace, and not in wartime.
This is what people have to keep outside their doors, in a flat of four houses together, and to have them within easy reach:
Large receptacles with covers and with improvised seats to use as urinals, and for excreta. Ashes, dry earth or disinfectant, toilet paper, clean newspapers, brown paper or strong paper bags (to wrap up food remains and empty tins) dustbin with well fitting lid for pets. Keep a box of earth or ashes.
Imagine what a play paradise that would be for children living in those tenements. How are people to do this preparatory work in the conditions in which they now live?
Another example of what to do during this protective period is that a husband wearing long boots must take them off before coming into the house, and his wife should present him with a pair of shoes. I hope that the shoes would always be intended by the good wife to go on his feet. Not that they would land where humourists tell us they occasionally do.
I want now to give the House the final recommendation made by the Committee appointed under its authority to inquire into our preparations for Civil Defence, the expenditure on which is now being reduced.
The Committee recommended:
Your Committee are anxious that the public should be aware of the steps that are being taken to protect them, and they feel that this pamphlet creates entirely the wrong impression.
That pamphlet is still in circulation. It is still the official pamphlet for civil defence. The Committee therefore recommended that Civil Defence Handbook No. 10 should now be withdrawn. Yet it is still our guide and philosopher—but not our friend. I hope that that will be duly noted when my hon. Friend comes to reply.
I hope that the hon. Gentleman the Member for Glasgow, Govan (Mr. Rankin) will forgive me if I do not refer to his remarks too closely. I want to refer especially to the remarks made by three of his hon. Friends who are not here at the moment, the hon. Member for Rugby (Mr. William Price), the hon. Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins), and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes). It seemed that they all had one thing in common: to do away with all form of civil defence in this country leading on to greater things—presumably complete and unilateral disarmament.
I know better than to try to persuade the hon. Member for Putney and the hon. Member for South Ayrshire to change their minds, but the hon. Member for Rugby is a different kettle of fish. First, he is a neighbour of mine suffering similar constituency problems. Secondly, he said that whilst he would support the Government tonight, he would stay to listen to the arguments deployed on this side to see if there were any sound reasons why we should retain a fabric of civil defence.
I am sorry that he has gone, because the first reason which would probably have the most effect on him is the comfort that the national fabric of civil defence now operating, however flimsy and thin it may be, gives to elderly people who do not understand international problems. Secondly, if we have a nuclear exchange millions will be killed, but millions more will be injured to one degree or another. To dismantle the whole fabric of civil defence, leaving those people with the certain knowledge that they are not likely to expect succour in any way, because there is no civil defence authority to supply it, must be an overriding consideration in supporting the argument put forward by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg).
I know that the Home Secretary has been up all night. For that reason, the House, whilst admiring his fortitude, will perhaps excuse the lack of vigour with which he defended his case against the civil defence service. He did not seem to possess his usual tenacity and, even to us on this side, the usual strain of conviction which he deploys in many arguments. I thought the worst example and the weakest argument that the right hon. Gentleman deployed this afternoon was when he praised the volunteer spirit of those who man the A.F.S. and civil defence services. He went on to say that there is always an avenue for them to put their spirit to good use in the Red Cross, the W.R.V.S. and the St. John Ambulance Brigade. What good is the Red Cross or the W.R.V.S. to 99 per cent. of civil defence and A.F.S. workers? Certainly there are quite a lot of men employed in the Red Cross, but the majority of workers in that organisation are women—women doing a wonderful job of work. The W.R.V.S. is entirely staffed by women, and the St. John Ambulance Brigade is fully manned at the moment.
I had the feeling that it was rather shameful of the right hon. Gentleman to expect the House to accept the weak way in which he put these three alternative avenues of employment for public spirited people who are prepared to give a bit of their own time for their country.
I deplored the Government's announcement on 18th January. It is regrettable that we never learn the old lessons of unpreparedness. In 1966 the Government slashed manpower in the Civil Defence Corps from 122,000 to 75,000, and cut the cost of running it from £24 million to £20 million per annum. As has been made clear by my hon. Friends, and by hon. Gentlemen opposite, the Government now propose virtually to abolish the civil defence service by cutting the cost by another £14 million, and putting it on a care-and-maintenance basis only.
The Government's record is nothing if not consistent in the trail of broken promises and broken pledges of one kind and another which every Minister in almost every Department has left behind him recently. The House is familiar with the solemn pledges which have been given by the Government, especially on defence. There was none more shameful than the pledge given less than a year ago by the noble Lord, Lord Stonham, in another place when he said that no one could say that all danger of nuclear attack was passed, and went on to indicate that until we could say with certainty that the danger had passed, no Government worthy of their name could leave people helpless in the aftermath of such a disaster. That was said, not some years ago, but only a few months ago, and yet here we have the Government proposing to abolish the civil defence service.
As my hon. Friends have said, circumstances have not changed. They have not changed in years, never mind in the last few months. The Government break pledges on almost everything to which they turn their hands. When they took office in 1964, they inherited a viable military aircraft industry, an effective, efficient and well-manned Civil Defence Corps, an effective Navy, with another carrier on the stocks, or planned anyway, and a series of defence bases which helped to ensure that we were unlikely ever to need a Civil Defence Corps because our forces helped to maintain a stability in areas which have grown no more stable in recent months. In fact, rather the contrary.
In the few years that the Socialist Government have been in office, all those cards in the hand have been thrown away and we are left with an empty Exchequer. It seems extraordinary that after the recent bout of defence cuts which envisages, within a short time, the ending of any pretence of this country's role in the Far East, or the Middle East, at a time when the Government are prepared to rat on our responsibilities abroad and leave a vacuum in dangerous and difficult corners of Asia, at a time when the country has never been weaker, it has been decided, to dismantle, at one blow, to save a few million £s, the whole fabric of our civil defence service and auxiliary fire service.
I have received constituency objections which I want to canvass, which is why I have had the patience to sit here all day after sitting here all night. A number of people in Leicestershire are deeply distressed about these cuts. A letter with a national angle is from the General Secretary of the British Fire Services Association, from his London Road office, pointing out that the Association is entirely non-political and nondenominational and exists for the well being of the members of the A.F.S. and the regular fire services.
He says that all members of the A.F.S. have stressed their willingness to go on working voluntarily by surrendering any payment, bounties or subsistence and are even prepared to pay their own travelling expenses. I ask the hon. Gentleman to bear in mind this noble gesture and treat it a little more kindly and a little less disdainfully. It has been said that we lose £80 million a year in large fires, at many of which the A.F.S. assists. Cannot the A.F.S. be kept on on a voluntary basis?
I also have a letter from the secretary of the Leicester and Leicestershire Civil Defence Association who lives in my constituency. The Civil Defence Corps is essential to the future safeguarding of our well being and this gentleman calls my attention to a pledge by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer replying to a former Minister of Housing in February, 1966. Asked where the fire fighting personnel would be drawn from in the event of an attack over and above the peacetime fire service he said:
We have the National Fire Service and the Auxiliary Fire Service, and I do not think that independently of what might be done by the Home Defence Force we shall have any significant reduction in the number of men available for fire fighting."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 2nd February, 1966; Vol. 723, c. 1092.]
The right hon. Gentleman forwarded that letter to the Secretary of the British Fire
Services Association. It was a pledge and it is deplorable that so soon after this pledge by different Ministers a complete change of attitude should take place.
I conclude by making a special plea in relation to the Civil Defence Corps. I have been asked to ask the Home Secretary whether it is absolutely necessary to dismantle the Civil Defence Corps to the extent which is threatened by the Government. It has been suggested to me by the Leicestershire Civil Defence Service that a workable nucleus can be kept by discontinuing the full-time regional officers and leaving the continuance of the Corps to the care of the local authority, county boroughs, county councils, or whatever they may be, with the possibility of mergers to suit geographical locations, the membership retained to be only those trained to instructor at advanced levels and those personnel to be kept up to date with information, with no bounty paid.
I do not expect the right hon. Gentleman the Chancellor of the Exchequer, after all he has been through in the last day of two, to remember every word that I have said, but I hope that he and his hon. Friend will look atHansardtomorrow, for I believe this is a worthwhile suggestion. I am sure that he will be good enough to do so.
Why is he keeping on the Royal Observer Corps when there is going to be nobody for that Corps to report to? Surely, that is an extraordinary decision to take. It has been put to me that probably the Government have once again got the answer the wrong way round. Members of the Civil Defence Corps and Auxiliary Fire Service are genuinely decent men who want to do a bit extra for the country and I can only say that I regard the attitude of the right hon. Gentleman and that of some of his hon. Friends behind him as a churlish one to have adopted to these patriotic citizens.
We are all glad that my hon. Friend the Member for Harborough (Mr. Farr) displayed his great staying power and caught your eye, Mr. Deputy Speaker. He has made practical and constructive suggestions about the Auxiliary Fire Service and the Civil Defence Corps, and his suggestions deserve an answer, which I am sure the Under-Secretary of State will wish to give.
My hon. Friend has said that the present Government break faith, and today we have had another display of government by contradiction, as I shall show. As to the Opposition Motion, the right hon. Gentleman the Home Secretary complained of the reference to the abolition of the responsibilities of local authorities. He claims, quite unjustifiably in my opinion, that the local authorities will be left with their responsibilities; but he is going to deprive them of the money, the staff and the volunteers to enable them to carry out those responsibilities.
The right hon. Gentleman has said that the £8 million to £10 million, broadly speaking, which will be the actual cost of local authority civil defence services, if we cut out the other items which are usually lumped together with civil defence, is something the Government cannot afford; but he says the Government are going to leave local authorities with their responsibilities to the extent of £1 million. That is not sincere. It is not genuine. That is not leaving the local authorities with their responsibilities. It is, no doubt, for that reason that local authorities asked to see him; and I am wondering whether the time has come for us to be told what transpired and what the Government have decided as a result of that visit.
My hon. Friend the Member for Banbury (Mr. Marten) got to the core of the matter in saying that local authorities provide the professional organisation which enables the volunteers to do the good job that they do. That is the position of local authorities and that is why we complain that the Government intend to abolish their responsibilities.
As for the Government Amendment—well, that really is something. The Government express their appreciation on paper to the volunteers for what they have done, but they express it in practice by disbanding the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service and by declining their offer to continue their training and service on the cheapest possible basis. [An HON. MEMBER: "Humbug."] It is nothing but humbug. The Government's refusal to consider further the offer of the volunteers must be described—I hope that the right hon. Gentleman will not mind my using strong words; he is accustomed to them and, in this case, they are appropriate—as churlish, unimaginative and mean. They are not even to have the benefit of suspended animation, which might have meant something for them.
Although this has been an exhausting time for the right hon. Gentleman, we are grateful that he is in his place to listen to the wind-up speech, I found his speech not only disappointing but, from the national point of view, dangerous, and I will explain why. He pointed out that when he got to the Home Office he was asked to make some economies, that he had a look at the Home Office account—which, as my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) said, tends to be based on the shoestring principle—and decided that he had to do something about the police. We regretted that on an earlier occasion. The right hon. Gentleman said, in effect, "Scratching my head hard, I came to the conclusion that the only other thing I could find was civil defence." So he said to himself—he told us how he asked himself this question—"Can we afford civil defence?" which was the wrong question. He should have asked himself. "Can we afford to do without civil defence?"
When the right hon. Gentleman spoke about that, a comparison immediately sprung to my mind because he is not the first Chancellor of the Exchequer in recent years to move to the Home Office. When Mr. R. A. Butler, as he then was, moved to that Department, having been Chancellor for five years and having got the economy going well again after six years of Socialism, he was asked by the Treasury—I remember this well in 1961—if there were any economies that could be made on the Home Office account. Apart from a few very minor items, he replied, "No", and that is what the right hon. Gentleman should have said.
Moreover, in the financial year 1961–62 Mr. Butler, in spite of a desire for Government economy, managed to persuade his Cabinet colleagues that they should be spending more on civil defence. Now we find the right hon. Gentleman, having failed to prevent devaluation as Chancellor, mutilating civil defence as Home Secretary because he has to find an economy item. It is not only a very poor case on the ground of economy that he puts forward—and if there is time I will examine it in greater detail later—but he expresses, in the most extraordinary terms, a case to the effect that the risk which civil defence is intended to cover has been diminished. He said that the risk of nuclear attack now is less than a year ago.
He pointed to hopes for a non-proliferation treaty as a basis for that belief. It is right to point out that two very important countries which are going nuclear, France and China, have decided not to support a non-proliferation treaty. There is a further dangerous new factor about which we do not know much yet but which ought to put the Government on their guard. Some Dutch scientists have found a cheap way of providing enriched uranium.
I do not think that is the crucial question to consider. The crucial question to consider is: do we live in a safe world or a dangerous world? Bearing in mind the unusual and unexpected ways in which all kinds of conflicts start, can we regard the world today as so very much a safer place that we can dispense with what previous Government spokesmen have called the modest insurance premium involved in having a civil defence system? That is the crux of the matter and my answer to the hon. Member for South Ayrshire (Mr. Emrys Hughes).
The hon. Member and his hon. Friend the Member for Putney (Mr. Hugh Jenkins) entirely overlooked the vital factor which was mentioned by my right hon. and learned Friend the Member for St. Marylebone, who pointed out, with his usual clarity and force, that it is not merely a nuclear holocaust against which we should provide; we should provide against the possibility of even a conventional war starting somewhere, in Europe perhaps and escalating. We might or might not be involved, but we are near enough to the fringe to make it highly desirable—I speak as a native of South-East England—that we should have at least some means of protecting the civilian population, some kind of preparedness. I go so far as to say that it is lacking in humanity not to do so.
I continue with the reasons put forward by the Home Secretary for saying that the risk has diminished. My hon. Friend the Member for Windsor (Sir C. Mott-Radclyffe) interrupted him to ask how long it would take to reactivate civil defence in an emergency. The words of the Home Secretary replying should be noted. No doubt they will be recorded more carefully in HANSARD, but I recorded them as follows: "Future crises will take longer to come to a head." If it is now a widely accepted assumption of Government defence policy that crises in future are to take longer to come to a head than they have in the past, the House of Commons should have been told in the statement on Defence Estimates, but of course there was not a single word of that there. It is a fantastic assumption as a basis for defence planning.
I ask the Under-Secretary to tell us definitely when winding up the debate whether this is an assumption which the Minister of Defence makes or not. [HON. MEMBERS: "Where is he?"] I leave the right hon. Gentleman with this final comment, although it is tempting to take up the time of the House with many more, but my hon. Friends have made such interesting and forceful speeches that it is unnecessary to do so.
I should like just to refer to a sentence in his speech which, whether he knew it or not, was taken straight out of paragraph 19 of the Defence White Paper, the only paragraph which is headed "Home Defence". He said, and it says:
Civil defence training and planning will continue at the minimum level necessary to preserve knowledge and techniques and to enable more active preparations to be resumed, if necessary, without too much loss of ground.
The man who wrote that must have written it either with a very heavy heart or with his tongue in his cheek. I prefer to think that it was written with a heavy heart. I certainly think it is a counsel of despair.
I wonder whether it might be of some help to the House if one were to attempt to do what so far the Government have not done, which is to mention in some detail the steps that would have to be taken in order to reactivate civil defence. In doing this one should bear in mind that from the time that the Civil Defence Act, 1948, was first introduced, until quite recently, it was an assumption that there would not be more than 3 weeks' tension before there was a major conflict. It was assumed that civil defence should be kept at a state of 48 to 72 hours' readiness and that was on the basis of part-time volunteers. It was also assumed that we should get four minutes' warning from Fylingdales of the arrival of the first missile.
With that in mind, I ask the House to consider in detail what steps would have to be taken to reactivate the civil defence organisation including the Corps and the regional and sub-regional offices which are to be unmanned and put into the hands of "Mrs. Mopps", and consider whether it is prudent to leave a state of affairs in which all these things will have to be done.
These are what they are: first—because we know the Government are going to lay an Order to annul numerous Orders that have gone before, imposing responsibilities on local authorities—an Order would have to be laid before Parliament reactivating the Civil Defence Corps and it would require an affirmative Resolution. We all know that Parliament can act very quickly in certain circumstances if required, of course.
The next thing is that administrative circulars would have to be sent, not only by the Home Office but by other Departments, to local authorities. Local authorities, having considered those circulars, would then have to advertise, to choose and to appoint their civil defence officers and staffs. The Home Office would also have to appoint the regional and sub-regional staffs all over again for they, meanwhile, would have been disbanded. Next, we should have to call again for civil defence volunteers and both the volunteers and the permanent staffs taken on would have either to be trained or re-trained. We must remember that only one training establishment would have been left at Easingwold, which has only 30 places. Then, the volunteers and staffs having been trained or re-trained would have to be formed into effective operational units for passive defence in order to help the civilian population. Premises would have to be found if meanwhile—and this applies especially to local authority premises—they had been put to other uses, as many of them will have been.
Then it would be necessary to get vehicles out of the Home Office depots and acquire many other vehicles. Finally, the technical instruments, which at the moment are held by local authorities ready for immediate distribution in case of emergency, would have to be got out of Home Office stores, in many cases a long distance away. I heard that, for example, from one Midland town the radiac instrument and survey meters were to go to a Home Office store in the Eastern counties. I obviously do not wish to disclose where. So that would have to be done in an emergency. They would have to be taken out of moth balls, checked, tested and redistributed to corps authorities.
I do not know how long all that would take. I can only remind the House that when it became necessary to reactivate the Civil Defence Corps after the Labour Government passed the 1948 Act it took about three years to establish it, even though A.R.P. had been disbanded only three years previously and even though in that case they were allowed to remain in suspended animation and local authorities were encouraged to allow them to use the buildings which were available.
I am very thankful that I gave way to my hon. Friend. Even if this reactivation had to take place within, say, a year from now, the whole process would take many weeks. After two or three years of disbandment, it would obviously take many months, and it might even take several years. Obviously the longer the time after disbandment that it had to be done, the longer the process would take. It is, therefore, misleading and hypocritical for the Government to say that this could be done "without too much loss of ground".
The two major factors in the debate have been the discussion of the risk and the discussion of the cost. In the two or three minutes remaining to me I will summarise the position with regard to
both factors. Our case is that, if the civil defence organisation is being abolished in the way in which it is being effectively abolished, the credibility of the deterrent is reduced. I hope that hon. Members opposite do not mind my saying "credibility". I know that they are a little touchy about it at present. Perhaps "effectiveness" is a word which will hurt less. There could be no attempted survival of our race or of our multi-racial society if the worst should happen at less than a year's notice once this has been done. The Prime Minister, having once said
Britain will cease this pretence of being a nuclear power",
is retaining the nuclear deterrent, others will take note that we have reduced its effectiveness by abolishing civil defence. Nor will there be any attempt at saving life in a major but less serious emergency once the civil defence organisation has gone. An ever-ready service for saving life and giving help to our people in war and peace will have disappeared.
In this context I quote the very moving words used by the late Aneurin Bevan when he replied to the debate on Second Reading of the Civil Defence Bill, 1948. Referring to the voluntary services which are now to be terminated, he said this:
I believe that the war showed that these services developed a great sense of comradeship amongst those taking part. Without consideration of party, of class, or of differential income, the whole population of this country is prepared to co-operate in defending itself against the rigours of another war."—[OFFICIAL REPORT, 23rd November, 1948; Vol. 458, c. 1200.]
That was his ideal as he spoke, but it is to be the ideal no longer. This mutilation of civil defence must be added to the long list of this Government's failures. The decision displays a lack of judgment in defence matters, a lack of consideration to volunteers and, although I do not like saying it I say it again, a lack of humanity.
The Home Office team and their shadows have been constantly facing each other during the last three days. The right hon. and learned Gentleman and his colleagues have accompanied me and my right hon. Friend into the Division Lobbies during the last few days, and, while we may have appreciated his support on some of the difficult issues that we faced, in view of some of the company he brought with him tonight it will be a relief to have a little party segregation. I say that with no disrespect to hon. Members for the help they gave.
Some serious and sincere speeches have been made in this debate. My hon. Friend the Member for Liverpool, Toxteth (Mr. Crawshaw) spoke with great sincerity from his experience in the Armed Forces, in the territorials, and civil defence. Other hon. Gentlemen spoke of their impressions from close association with civil defence gained either over many years or during the last few weeks.
Apart from the sincere things which have been said, there has been a lot of rot spoken tonight. Time and time again we have heard it said that by our decision to reduce the level of civil defence we are leaving the country defenceless. This absurd claim has been made time and time again by hon. Gentlemen opposite. It is arrant nonsense to suggest that we are destroying our country's ability to defend itself.
All we are talking about is a matter of scale, a matter of risk, and it is a matter of insurance. My right hon. Friend was talking about the risk. It is absolutely clear to right hon. and hon. Gentlemen on both sides of the House that there has, over a period of years, been a relaxation in international tension. There is no question but that the relationship between the two main power blocks has been less and less monolithic, and that there are more and more issues on which they have sought to come together. For hon. Gentlemen to suggest otherwise would indicate that they are out of touch.
When deciding on the level of civil defence, as my right hon. Friend has said, we must not only assess the risk in the field of international relations but we must also assess our economic circumstances.
I will give way later, but I have some statements to make.
The Government have a responsibility to maintain a nucleus of civil defence, and in this I am disagreeing with some of my hon. Friends. Unless, and until we live in a disarmed world, a responsibility will fall upon the Government, and we are talking about the question of scale. The Government have made it quite clear that they are maintaining the structure of the control and communications systems, the equipment that will be required, and the Royal Observer Corps, which has an important relationship with the Royal Air Force. It has responsibilities extending beyond the bounds of our country and mans the Warning and Monitoring Organisations. All that is in accordance with our N.A.T.O. responsibilities.
Is the hon. Gentleman aware that the arguments he has deployed on international strategy demonstrate that it is really not adequate for them to be put by a Home Office Minister? Why is not a single one of his colleagues from the Defence Department present, and why has there not been one present throughout the debate?
Many questions have been put, and I shall try to deal with them.
My first point concerns some of the responsibilities that fall on local government, because clearly there has been—[Interruption.] I do not know whether hon. Members opposite want to listen to answers to questions. I ask them to show a little courtesy.
I want to refer to questions of responsibilities falling on local government. It has been suggested that by disbanding the volunteer service which it has been the duty of local authorities to maintain under the Civil Defence Act, 1948, we are leaving local authorities with no residual civil defence responsibilities. The right hon. and learned Member for Huntingdonshire (Sir D. Renton) suggested that we were giving them responsibilities with no money. Different points of view have been put forward. Although the disbandment of the volunteer services will substantially reduce the civil defence responsibilities of local authorities, important responsibilities will still remain.
There is some danger of assuming that the activities and operations of the volunteer services formed the sum total of local authorities' efforts in civil defence matters. Those who suggested that the abandonment of the volunteer part of the civil defence preparations therefore meant the end of civil defence preparations show that they do not know much about the subject.
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone (Mr. Hogg) talked about other countries and the way in which they carried out their civil defence responsibilities. The point was also made by the hon. Member for Blackpool, South (Mr. Blaker). We have been unusual among our N.A.T.O. allies and most other countries in having a volunteer civil defence force. Only in Belgium, Portugal, and Luxembourg do the civil defence authorities have any volunteers, and those are only in very small numbers. To support their regular peace-time services, the Netherlands, Denmark and Norway rely on conscription. Italy—[Interruption]. From the sound of that intervention, right hon. Gentlemen opposite think that civil defence should be carried out here by conscription. We certainly do not.
Do we gather then that those countries regard civil defence as so essential that they are prepared to impose compulsion to ensure that the service is performed?
I made it clear that other members of N.A.T.O. and neutral countries have different methods of meeting their civil defence responsibilities. For example, Italy bases its civil defence service on the national fire brigade. The United States and Canada regard civil defence as an extension of normal government, placing reliance on the staff of the Federal, State, provincial and municipal governments. Therefore, the suggestion that by disbanding a voluntary corps one abdicates one's responsibilities is quite absurd.
By disbanding our own special corps of volunteers, we shall be changing the balance of local authority activities. For this purpose, we shall be providing grant-aided expenditure of about£1 million a year, which, of course, is much less than before, to be devoted largely to planning. In addition, we shall be authorising grant-aided expenditure for maintaining existing operational control buildings and their communications in order to maintain the regional communications network through which the local authorities could communicate in an emergency with sub-regional controls and with each other.
I have given these facts because I want to make it clear that the network of control and communication will exist. As my right hon. Friend said, we shall continue to maintain some central training facilities at Easingwold. It shows the extent of the right hon. and learned Gentleman's knowledge, or his willingness, not intentionally to mislead the House, I am sure, but to exaggerate his case, that he said there were only 30 places. In fact, there are 60. [Laughter.] That is twice as many as the figure he gave.
With pleasure. The right hon. and learned Gentleman was only 100 per cent. wrong. At Easingwold, senior staff of local authorities will be able to discuss civil defence planning with officers of central Departments and essential services and industries. The burden of local authority responsibility in the unlikely event of war would be considerable, but it is important not to underestimate the resources of local authorities. The Civil Defence Corps formed but a small part of the resources of skilled technicians, professional men and women and administrators to be found among local authority staffs, and a great fund of expertise remains to discharge civil defence responsibilities. It will be for local authorities to make plans in peacetime to see that their resources can be fully used to the best advantage if war should come.
A number of hon. Members have put forward, in the debate and in correspondence, various suggestions as to how the Civil Defence Corps and the A.F.S. could in one way or other, be kept going. I want to look at some of these proposals. My hon. Friend the Member for Toxteth proposed that somehow we should find a way to continue the volunteer forces without official support or financial help.
My right hon. Friend and I have been very much impressed, as he said, by the spirit of service which has been shown in the representations we have received. [Laughter.] It is all very well for right hon. and hon. Members to laugh, but I speak myself as one who has been a volunteer civil defence worker. I know what it means and I know the sense of commitment of the men and women both in the Civil Defence Corps and the A.F.S. They have given a great deal of service to the community and it is not just a pretence to say that there is genuine appreciation by the Government of that service. It is because of their generosity of spirit and mind that they suggested going without bounty or other direct payment. But this, as I have explained previously, accounts for little more than 8 per cent. of total expenditure.
Others, while accepting that the Civil Defence Corps and the A.F.S. as at present organised must cease, have suggested that their members might continue to meet socially and perhaps do a little amount of training. Naturally, we would not wish to oppose any proposals for volunteers to establish or maintain voluntary associations for this purpose. It is for the members themselves to decide. But I must say that there are serious practical difficulties in their organising any training. It is clear that the Government will not go back on their financial decision, and since they will withdraw from the local authorities the responsibilities now upon them to provide the Civil Defence Corps, it would be quite wrong now for the Government, at the same time as, in another connection, they are telling local authorities that they must economise on their staff, to urge them to take a responsibility which may involve them in expenditure.
Without effective training, and this applies especially in the A.F.S., but also to the Civil Defence Corps, the thought that they will, in first-aid or fire-fighting be able to make a direct contribution, not only in war-time situations, but in peacetime situations, is one that we should watch very carefully.
Surely the 8 per cent. to which the hon. Gentleman referred relates to the Civil Defence Corps not the A.F.S.? If the figure for the A.F.S. is different why has he found it necessary to refuse offers of voluntary help, without bounty or other fees from members of 35 out of 132 fire brigades?
The figure of 8 per cent.—it is nearer 8½ per cent.—covers the Civil Defence Corps and the A.F.S.
The right hon. and learned Member for St. Marylebone asked me about meeting in local authority premises. He asked if these people could not meet in headquarters and control rooms in order to maintain their activities. This is a matter for the local authorities. Certainly the Home Office would not stand in the way of this kind of activity. It has been suggested that the active rôle of the Corps should be suspended rather than disbanded on the precedent, as the hon. Member for Blackpool, South pointed out of 1945, when the Civil Defence was stood down after the passage of the Civil Defence (Suspension of Powers) Act, 1945.
The statutory position is different, because although we have to revoke the Civil Defence Corps Regulations, which require local authorities to organise divisions of the Corps, the Civil Defence Act, 1948, under which these Regulations were made, is not to be repealed. Consequently it remains open to the Home Secretary to reconstitute the Corps at any time subject to Parliamentary approval of the necessary Regulations. I am not suggesting that it is the intention of my right hon. Friend to do so. [Interruption.] He made it perfectly clear that it was not. He said that it was unlikely that the Corps would be reconstituted at any time in exactly the same form. The right hon. and learned Gentleman, when he opened the debate, in the enthusiasm of the moment, or the tiredness of the afternoon, seemed to address a great plea to all Civil Defence and A.F.S. workers, saying that if somehow or other, by some mis- fortune, his party was returned to power, these people would be reorganised back into their services. This was a very unwise thing for him to have said.
There cannot be any question of changing from disbandment to suspension. If local groups wish to organise themselves and meet together, they may feel that they are in a state of suspension, because if there was ever a crisis then no doubt those men who have been members of the Corps—and this is a perfectly serious answer—who have been involved in training operations would receive the call, whether by means of public appeal or otherwise, to help in the sort of catastrophe that other hon. Gentlemen have put forward.
I appreciate the fact that merely to give the service would make only a marginal difference in the cost, but it is the establishment that matters. Does my hon. Friend agree that most of the auxiliary services give one night a week or more to the regular services'? Is it not possible, without having establishments of their own, for them to be able to continue doing this?
I cannot see any possibility of going back on the decision taken by the Government to disband the A.F.S. If my hon. Friend or any hon. Gentleman wishes to put forward such a suggestion, or any suggestion that may be helpful, I can assure them that in the course of time it will be examined by my right hon. Friend and myself. It would honestly be absurd to give a snap answer to a proposal made on the floor of the House of Commons.
There was some criticism of a point made by my right hon. Friend when expressing appreciation of the number and service of the volunteers. He said that there were many other opportunities for voluntary service. He mentioned the British Red Cross and the Order of St. John, and he might have mentioned the Special Constabulary or the Women's Royal Voluntary Service. These are voluntary services of tremendous national importance. Their members are trained and ready for peace-time services and are available in time of crisis.
I want to pay tribute also—and my hon. Friend the Joint Under-Secretary of State for Scotland, had he taken part in the Debate, would have joined with me in paying tribute—to the work done by the A.F.S. and the Civil Defence Corps in the Glasgow storm crisis and at Aberfan, and Hither Green.
The two voluntary corps which were talked about were established and financed for one thing; and, while we must give credit to the service which they do in particular emergencies, this would not warrant the Governmental expenditure involved in maintaining them in the form of emergency corps. One of my hon. Friends made the suggestion that there should be some form of special peace emergency corps, and it is worth while looking to see whether there is, at national or regional level, some opportunity of canalising more effectively the willingness and enthusiasm of volunteers, not just for a war-time situation but for the crises which occur in our national life, and to which volunteers give a great deal of time.
I have attempted to deal with a number of the questions raised, but I must say that I believe that in the course of this debate there has been not just concern for the Civil Defence Corps and for the volunteers but a good deal of political talk as well. The right hon. Gentleman the Leader of the Opposition, in one of his recent week-end speeches, spoke of "phantom cuts". He referred to an uncontrollable urge on the part of the Government to spend. In this case the boot is on the other foot. My right hon. Friends and I on this side of the House are fed up with the hypocrisy of right hon. Gentlemen who have constantly demanded cuts in Government expenditure, yet every time that my right hon. Friends come forward with measures which imply reductions in expenditure they put forward motions of criticism. For the party opposite, that is sheer hypocrisy.
The cuts in civil defence about which we are talking are real ones. Admittedly, they are modest, with a saving of£13 million this year and£20 million in subsequent years. But it is an immediate saving, and it is one which not only affects the Exchequer but the local authorities and the rate burden; there will be many ratepayers who will appreciate the decision.
In the speech to which I referred, the Leader of the Opposition was talking about what he called all this "public breast beating", and all this talk of "sacrifices and sacred cows". That may impress the Mitcham Conservative Association, but it cuts no ice in the House of Commons.
I am not certain that the right hon. Gentleman's sacred cow is not the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West (Mr. Powell), and I gave him warning that I wanted to quote from a speech which he made on 2nd February, in the course of which he said:
I am strongly inclined to accept that war is, if not in the absolute 100 per cent. sense essential to the life of human society, at any rate so deeply interwoven with it that policies and behaviour based on the assumption that it is practicable or possible, even desirable, to aim at permanent universal peace are self-condemning
I am glad to see that the right hon. Gentleman accepts that as an accurate transcript of what he said. He was commenting favourably on the report of a committee which decided that peace is not a good thing.
I do not know if that is the Opposition's view in a situation of peace and war. If it were to be so, it is surprising that the Motion that they have put on the Order Paper was not one calling for a dramatic increase in civil defence expenditure rather than the situation as we have it.
I have a question to ask of the Opposition. Does the statement made by the right hon. Member for Wolverhampton, South-West represent the views of Her Majesty's Opposition? If it does not, it is about time that the Leader of the Opposition repudiated the views of the right hon. Gentleman or, somehow, put the cow, sacred or otherwise, out to grass. That is the inevitable situation, because one cannot but link the requirements for civil defence with one's expectation of war.
Although the House accepts that the Opposition do not want this cut, since the Home Office is 'not exempt from the need for financial restraint it would be very interesting to know from the Opposition what they would like to cut from Home Office expenditure.
If they assume that this burden of saving public expenditure is to be spread, let me tell them that a saving of£20 million is equal to the annual cost of about 12,500 policemen, over one-third of the total cost of the Child Care Service, and half the cost of the Prison Service. Those are the sort of cuts which would have to be faced if hon. Gentlemen recognised that the Home Office and my right hon. Friend would have their share.
I believe that the Government's policy is a realistic one. It recognises the need to maintain a basis for civil defence. It recognises the great spirit of service of volunteers, but it faces financial facts with
|Division No. 80.]||AYES||[10.0 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Dell, Edmund||Hughes, Roy (Newport)|
|Albu, Austen||Dempsey, James||Hunter, Adam|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Irvine, Sir Arthur|
|Alldritt, Walter||Dickens, James||Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Dobson, Ray||Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)|
|Anderson, Donald||Dolg, Peter||Janner, Sir Barnett|
|Archer, Peter||Dunn, James A.||Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Dunnett, Jack||Jeger, George (Goole)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Dunwoody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Jeger, Mrs. Lena (H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Eadie, Alex||Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Edeiman, Maurice||Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)|
|Bagier, Gordon A, T.||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)|
|Barnes, Michael||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W)|
|Beaney, Alan||Ellis, John||Jones, Dan (Burnley)|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||English, Michael||Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn (W. Ham, S.)|
|Bence, Cyril||Ennals, David||Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Ensor, David||Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)||Judd, Frank|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Faulds, Andrew||Kelley, Richard|
|Binns, John||Fernyhough, E.||Kenyon, Clifford|
|Bishop, E. S.||Finch, Harold||Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)|
|Blackburn, F.||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)||Kerr, Russell (Feltham)|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)||Lawson, George|
|Boardman, H. (Leigh)||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)||Leadbitter, Ted|
|Booth, Albert||Foley, Maurice||Ledger, Ron|
|Boston, Terence||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)||Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Ford, Ben||Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)|
|Boyden, James||Forrester, John||Lee, John (Reading)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Fowler, Gerry||Lestor, Miss Joan|
|Bradley, Tom||Fraser, John (Norwood)||Lever, Harold (Cheetham)|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Freeson, Reginald||Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Galpern, Sir Myer||Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)|
|Broughton, Or. A. D. D.||Gardner, Tony||Lipton, Marcus|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Garrett, W. E.||Lomas, Kenneth|
|Brown, Bob (N'c'tle-upon-Tyne, W.)||Ginsburg, David||Loughlin, Charles|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Gourlay, Harry||Lyon, Alexander W. (York)|
|Buchan, Norman||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)||Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Mabon, Dr. J. Dlckson|
|Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||Gregory, Arnold||McBride, Neil|
|Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Grey, Charles (Durham)||McCann, John|
|Cant, R. B.||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)||MacColl, James|
|Carmichael, Neil||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)||MacDermot, Niall|
|Carter-Jones, Lewis||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)||Macdonald, A. H.|
|Coe, Denis||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.||McGuire, Michael|
|Coleman, Donald||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)||McKay, Mrs. Margaret|
|Concannon, J. D.||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)||Mackenzie, Cregor (Rutherg[...]en)|
|Conlan, Bernard||Hamling, William||Mackie, John|
|Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Haseldine, Norman||Mackintosh, John P.|
|Crawshaw, Richard||Hattersley, Roy||Maclennan, Robert|
|Cronin, John||Hazell, Bert||McMillan, Tom (Glasgow, C.)|
|Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Heffer, Eric S.||McNamara, J. Kevin|
|Crossman, Rt. Hn. Richard||Henig, Stanley||MacPherson, Malcolm|
|Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)|
|Dalyell, Tam||Hilton, W. S.||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)|
|Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Hobden, Dennis (Brighton, K'town)||Mallalieu, J.P.W.(Huddersfield, E.)|
|Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Hooley, Frank||Manuel, Archie|
|Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Mapp, Charles|
|Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Marks, Kenneth|
|Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Howarth, Robert (Bolton, E.)||Mason, Rt. Hn. Roy|
|Davies, Harold (Leek)||Hoy, James||Mayhew, Christopher|
|Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Huckfield, Leslie||Mellish, Robert|
|de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire, S.)||Mendelson, J. J.|
|Delargy, Hugh||Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mikardo, Ian|
|Miller, Dr. M. S.||Probert, Arthur||Swingler, Stephen|
|Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Pursey, Cmdr, Harry||Tavern, Dick|
|Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Randall, Harry||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Molloy, William||Rankin, John||Thomson, Rt. Hn. George|
|Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Rees, Merlyn||Thornton, Ernest|
|Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Reynolds, G. W.||Tinn, James|
|Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Tomney, Frank|
|Morris, John (Aberavon)||Richard, Ivor||Urwin, T. W.|
|Moyle, Roland||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Varley, Eric G.|
|Murray, Albert||Roberts, Goronwy (Caernarvon)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Neal, Harold||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Newens, Stan||Robertson, John (Paisley)||Wallace, George|
|Norwood, Christopher||Robinson, Rt. Hn. Kenneth(St. P'c'as)||Watkis, David (Co[...]tt)|
|Oakes, Gordon||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon & Radnor)|
|Ogden, Eric||Rodgers, William (Stockton)||Weitzman, David|
|O'Malley, Brian||Roebuck, Roy||Wellbeloved, James|
|Orbach, Maurice||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Orme, Stanley||Ross, Rt. Hn. William||Whitaker, Ben|
|Oswald, Thomas||Rowlands, E. (Cardiff, N.)||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Ryan, John||Whitlock, William|
|Padley, Walter||Shaw, Arnold (llford, S.)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Sheldon, Robert||Williams, Alan (Swansea. W.)|
|Paget, R. T.||Shinwell, Rt. Hn. E.||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Palmer, Arthur||Shore, Peter (Stepney)||Williams, Clifford (Abertillery)|
|Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Short, Rt.Hn.Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)||Williams, Mrs. Shirley (Hitchin)|
|Park, Trevor||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)||Williams, W. T. (Warrington)|
|Parker, John (Dagenham)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)||Willis, George (Edinburgh, E.)|
|Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)||Wilson, Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|Pavitt, Laurence||Skeffington, Arthur||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Slater, Joseph||Winnick, David|
|Peart, Rt. Hn. Fred||Small, William||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|Pentland, Norman||Snow, Julian||Woof, Robert|
|Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Spriggs, Leslie||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire,W.)||Yates, Victor|
|Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Stonehouse, John||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Strauss, Rt. Hn. G. R.||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Price, William (Rugby)||Swain, Thomas||Mr. loan L. Evans.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Corfield, F. V.||Gritnond, Rt. Hn. J.|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Costain, A. P.||Gurden, Harold|
|Astor, John||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)||Hall, John (Wycombe)|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Crouch, David||Hall-Davis, A. G. F.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Crowder, F. P.||Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Cunningham, Sir Knox||Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)|
|Balniel, Lord||Currie, G. B. H.||Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Dalkeith, Earl of||Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)|
|Batsford, Brian||Dance, James||Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Davidson, James (Aberdeenshire, W.)||Harvie Anderson, Miss|
|Bell, Ronald||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry||Hastings, Stephen|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)||Hawkins, Paul|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)||Hay, John|
|Berry, Hn. Anthony||Digby, Simon Wlngfleld||Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel|
|Biffen, John||Doughty, Charles||Heseltine, Michael|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec||Higgins, Terence L,|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Drayson, G. B.||Hiley, Joseph|
|Black, Sir Cyril||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward||Hill, J. E. B.|
|Blaker, Peter||Eden, Sir John||Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin|
|Body, Richard||Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carehalton)||Holland, Philip|
|Bossom, Sir Clive||Emery Peter||Hooson, Emlyn|
|Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Errington, Sir Eric||Hordern, Peter|
|Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Eyre, Reginald||Hornby, Richard|
|Braine, Bernard||Farr, John||Howell, David (Guildford)|
|Brewis, John||Fisher, Nigel||Hunt, John|
|Brinton, Sir Tatton||Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Hutchison, Michael Clark|
|Bromley Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Fortescue, Tim||Iremonger, T. L.|
|Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Foster, Sir John||Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)|
|Bryan, Paul||Galbraith, Hon. T. G.||Jennings, J. C. (Burton)|
|Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus, N&M)||Gibson-Watt, David||Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)|
|Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Johnston, Russell (Inverness)|
|Bullus, Sir Eric||Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)|
|Burden, F. A.||Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Jopling, Michael|
|Campbell, Gordon||Glover, Sir Douglas||Kaberry, Sir Donald|
|Carlisle, Mark||Glyn, Sir Richard||Kerby, Capt. Henry|
|Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Kershaw, Anthony|
|Cary, Sir Robert||Goodhart, Philip||Kimball, Marcus|
|Channon, H. P. G.||Goodhew, Victor||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)|
|Clark, Henry||Gower, Raymond||Kirk, Peter|
|Cooke, Robert||Grant, Anthony||Kitson, Timothy|
|Cooper-Key, Sir Neill||Gresham Cooke, R.||Lambton, Viscount|
|Cordle, John||Grieve, Percy||Lancaster, Col. C. G.|
|Lane, David||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Langford-Holt, Sir John||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Tapsell, Peter|
|Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow,Catticart)|
|Longden, Gilbert||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Taylor, Frank (Moss Side)|
|Loveys, W. H.||Peel, John||Teeling, Sir William|
|Lubbock, Eric||Percival, Ian||Temple, John M.|
|McAdden, Sir Stephen||Peyton, John||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|MacArthur, Ian||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Macleod, Rt. Hn. Iain||Pink, R. Bonner||Tilney, John|
|McMaster, Stanley||Pounder, Rafton||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Macmillan, Maurice (Farnham)||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch||van Straubenzee, W. R.|
|Maddan, Martin||Price, David (Eastleigh)||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt. Hn. Sir John|
|Maginnis, John E.||Pym, Francis||Vickere, Dame Joan|
|Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Quenneil, Miss J. M.||Wainwrigtvt, Richard (Colne Valley)|
|Marten, Neil||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Maude, Angus||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter||Wall, Patrick|
|Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David||Walters, Dennis|
|Mawby, Ray||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Ridsdale, Julian||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey||Webster, David|
|Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Robson Brown, Sir William||Wells, John (Makistone)|
|Miscampbell, Norman||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Montgomery, Fergus||Royle, Anthony||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Russell, Sir Ronald||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||St. John-stevas, Norman||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Murton, Oscar||Scott, Nicholas||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Scott-Hopkins, James||Worsley, Marcus|
|Neave, Airey||Sharples, Richard||Wright, Esmond|
|Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)||Wylie, N. R.|
|Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Sinclair, Sir George||Younger, Hn. George|
|Nott, John||Stainton, Keith|
|Onslow, Cranley||Steel, David (Roxburgh)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Stodart, Anthony.||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Mr. Jasper More.|
|Division No. 81.]||AYES||[10.12 p.m.|
|Abse, Leo||Butler, Mrs. Joyce (Wood Green)||English, Michael|
|Albu, Austen||Callaghan, Rt. Hn. James||Ennals, David|
|Allaun, Frank (Salford, E.)||Cant, R. B.||Ensor, David|
|Alldritt, Walter||Carmichael, Neil||Evans, Albert (Islington, S.W.)|
|Allen, Scholefield||Carter-Jones, Lewis||Faulds, Andrew|
|Anderson, Donald||Coe, Denis||Fernyhough, E.|
|Archer, Peter||Coleman, Donald||Finch, Harold|
|Armstrong, Ernest||Concannon, J. D.||Fitch, Alan (Wigan)|
|Atkins, Ronald (Preston, N.)||Conlan, Bernard||Fletcher, Raymond (Ilkeston)|
|Atkinson, Norman (Tottenham)||Corbet, Mrs. Freda||Fletcher, Ted (Darlington)|
|Bacon, Rt. Hn. Alice||Crawshaw, Richard||Foley, Maurice|
|Bagier, Gordon A. T.||Cronin, John||Foot, Michael (Ebbw Vale)|
|Barnes, Michael||Crosland, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Ford, Ben|
|Beaney, Alan||Cullen, Mrs. Alice||Forrester, John|
|Bellenger, Rt. Hn. F. J.||Dalyell, Tam||Fowler, Gerry|
|Bence, Cyril||Darling, Rt. Hn. George||Fraser, John (Norwood)|
|Benn, Rt. Hn. Anthony Wedgwood||Davidson, Arthur (Accrington)||Freeson, Reginald|
|Bennett, James (G'gow, Bridgeton)||Davies, Dr. Ernest (Stretford)||Galpern, Sir Myer|
|Bidwell, Sydney||Davies, C. Elfed (Rhondda, E.)||Gardner, Tony|
|Binns, John||Davies, Ednyfed Hudson (Conway)||Garrett, W. E.|
|Bishop, E. S.||Davies, Harold (Leek)||Ginsburg, David|
|Blackburn, F.||Davies, Ifor (Gower)||Courlay, Harry|
|Blenkinsop, Arthur||de Freitas, Rt. Hn. Sir Geoffrey||Gray, Dr. Hugh (Yarmouth)|
|Boardman, H.||Delargy, Hugh||Greenwood, Rt. Hn. Anthony|
|Booth, Albert||Dell, Edmund||Gregory, Arnold|
|Boston, Terence||Dempsey, James||Grey, Charles (Durham)|
|Bottomley, Rt. Hn. Arthur||Diamond, Rt. Hn. John||Griffiths, David (Rother Valley)|
|Boyden, James||Dickens, James||Griffiths, Rt. Hn. James (Llanelly)|
|Braddock, Mrs. E. M.||Dobson, Ray||Griffiths, Will (Exchange)|
|Bradley, Tom||Doig, Peter||Gunter, Rt. Hn. R. J.|
|Bray, Dr. Jeremy||Dunn, James A.||Hamilton, James (Bothwell)|
|Brooks, Edwin||Dunnett, Jack||Hamilton, William (Fife, W.)|
|Broughton, Dr. A. D. D.||Dun woody, Mrs. Gwyneth (Exeter)||Hamling, William|
|Brown, Rt. Hn. George (Belper)||Eadie, Alex||Haseldine, Norman|
|Brown, Bob(N'c'tlc-upon-Tyne,W.)||Edelman, Maurice||Hattersley, Roy|
|Brown, R. W. (Shoreditch & F'bury)||Edwards, Robert (Bilston)||Heffer, Eric S.|
|Buchan, Norman||Edwards, William (Merioneth)||Henig, Stanley|
|Buchanan, Richard (G'gow, Sp'burn)||Ellis, John||Herbison, Rt. Hn. Margaret|
|Hilton, W. S.||Mahon, Peter (Preston, S.)||Robinson, W. O. J. (Walth'stow, E.)|
|Hobden, Dinnis (Brighton, K'town)||Mallalieu, E. L. (Brigg)||Rodgers, William (Stockton)|
|Hooley, Frank||Mallalieu,J.P.W.(Huddersfield,E.)||Roebuck, Roy|
|Houghton, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Manuel, Archie||Rogers, George (Kensington, N.)|
|Howarth, Harry (Wellingborough)||Mapp, Charles||Ross, Rt. Hn. William|
|Howarth, Robert (Balton, E.)||Marks, Kenneth||Rowlands, E, (Cardiff, N.)|
|Hoy, James||Mason, Roy||Ryan, John|
|Huckfield, Leslie||Mayhew, Christopher||Shaw, Arnold (Ilford, S.)|
|Hughes, Emrys (Ayrshire. S.)||Mellish, Robert||Sheldon, Robert|
|Hughes, Hector (Aberdeen, N.)||Mendelson, J. J.||Shore, Peter (Stepney)|
|Hughes, Roy (Newport)||Mikardo, Ian||Short, Rt. Hn. Edward(N'c'tle-u-Tyne)|
|Hunter, Adam||Miller, Dr. M. S.||Short, Mrs. Renée(W'hampton,N.E.)|
|Irvine, Sir Arthur||Milne, Edward (Blyth)||Silkin, Rt. Hn. John (Deptford)|
|Jackson, Colin (B'h'se & Spenb'gh)||Mitchell, R. C. (S'th'pton, Test)||Silverman, Julius (Aston)|
|Jackson, Peter M. (High Peak)||Molloy, William||Skeffington, Arthur|
|Janner, Sir Barnett||Morgan, Elystan (Cardiganshire)||Slater, Joseph|
|Jay, Rt. Hn. Douglas||Morris, Alfred (Wythenshawe)||Small, William|
|Jeger, George (Goole)||Morris, Charles R. (Openshaw)||Snow, Julian|
|Jeger, Mrs. Lena(H'b'n&St. P'cras, S.)||Morris, John (Aberavon)||Spriggs, Leslie|
|Jenkins, Hugh (Putney)||Moyle, Roland||Steele, Thomas (Dunbartonshire,W.)|
|Jenkins, Rt. Hn. Roy (Stechford)||Murray, Albert||Stewart, Rt. Hn. Michael|
|Johnson, Carol (Lewisham, S.)||Neal, Harold||Stonehouse, John|
|Johnson, James (K'ston-on-Hull, W.)||Newens, Stan||Swain, Thomas|
|Jones, Dan (Burnley)||Norwood, Christopher||Swingier, Stephen|
|Jones, Rt. Hn. Sir Elwyn(W. Ham, S.)||Oakes, Gordon||Taverne, Dick|
|Jones, J. Idwal (Wrexham)||Ogden, Eric||Thomas, George (Cardiff, W.)|
|Jones, T. Alec (Rhondda, West)||O'Malley, Brian||Thomson, Rt. Hn, George|
|Judd, Frank||Orbach, Maurice||Thornton, Ernest|
|Kelley, Richard||Orme, Stanley||Tinn, James|
|Kenyon, Clifford||Oswald, Thomas||Tomney, Frank|
|Kerr, Mrs. Anne (R'ter & Chatham)||Owen, Will (Morpeth)||Urwin, T. W.|
|Kerr, Russell (Feltham)||Padley, Walter||Varley, Eric G.|
|Lawson, George||Page, Derek (King's Lynn)||Wainwright, Edwin (Dearne Valley)|
|Leadbitter Ted||Paget, R. T.||Walker, Harold (Doncaster)|
|Ledger, Ron||Palmer, Arthur||Wallace George|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Frederick (Newton)||Pannell, Rt. Hn. Charles||Watkins David (Consett)|
|Lee, Rt. Hn. Jennie (Cannock)||Park, Trevor||Watkins, Tudor (Brecon &Radnor)|
|Lee, John (Reading)||Parkyn, Brian (Bedford)||Weitzman, David|
|Lestor, Miss Joan||Pavitt, Laurence||Wellbeloved, James|
|Lever, Harold (Cheetham)||Pearson, Arthur (Pontypridd)||Wells, William (Walsall, N.)|
|Lever, L. M. (Ardwick)||Peart, nt. Hn. Fred||Whitaker. Ben|
|Lewis, Ron (Carlisle)||Pentland, Norman||White, Mrs. Eirene|
|Lipton, Marcus||Perry, Ernest G. (Battersea, S.)||Whitlock, William|
|Lomas, Kenneth||Perry, George H. (Nottingham, S.)||Willey, Rt. Hn. Frederick|
|Loughlin, Charles||Prentice, Rt. Hn. R. E.||Willliams, Alan (Swansea, W.)|
|Lyon, Alexander W. (York)||Price, Christopher (Perry Barr)||Williams, Alan Lee (Hornchurch)|
|Lyons, Edward (Bradford, E.)||Price, Thomas (Westhoughton)||Williams, Clifford f Abertillery)|
|Mabon, Dr. J. Dlckson||Price, William (Rugby)||Williams, Mrs Shirley (Hitchin)|
|McBride, Neil||Probert, Arthur||Williams, W T (warrington)|
|McCann, John||Pursey, Cmdr. Harry||Willis George (Edinburgh E)|
|MacColl, James||Randall, Harry||Wilson Rt. Hn. Harold (Huyton)|
|MacDermot, Niall||Rankin, John||Wilson, William (Coventry, S.)|
|Macdonald, A. H.||Rees, Merlyn||Winnick, David|
|McGuire, Michael||Reynolds, G. W.||Woodburn, Rt. Hn. A.|
|McKay, Mrs. Margaret||Rhodes, Geoffrey||Woof, Robert|
|Mackenzie, Cregor (Rutherglen)||Richard, Ivor||Wyatt, Woodrow|
|Mackie, John||Roberts, Albert (Normanton)||Yates, Victor|
|Maclennan, Robert||Roberts, Gorormy (Caernarvon)|
|McNamara, J. Kevin||Roberts, Gwilym (Bedfordshire, S.)||TELLERS FOR THE AYES:|
|MacPherson, Malcolm||Robinson,Rt.Hn.Kenneth(St.P'c'as)||Mr. Joseph Harper and|
|Mr. Ioan L. Evans.|
|Alison, Michael (Barkston Ash)||Bossom, Sir Clive||Cooper-Key, Sir Neill|
|Allason, James (Hemel Hempstead)||Boyd-Carpenter, Rt. Hn. John||Cordle, John|
|Astor, John||Boyle, Rt. Hn. Sir Edward||Corfield, F. V.|
|Atkins, Humphrey (M't'n & M'd'n)||Braine, Bernard||Costain, A. P.|
|Awdry, Daniel||Brewis, John||Craddock, Sir Beresford (Spelthorne)|
|Baker, W. H. K.||Brinton, Sir Tatton||Crouch, David|
|Balniel, Lord||Bromley-Davenport,Lt.-Col.SirWalter||Crowder, F. P.|
|Barber, Rt. Hn. Anthony||Brown, Sir Edward (Bath)||Cunningham, Sir Knox|
|Batsford, Brian||Bryan, Paul||Currie, G. B. H.|
|Beamish, Col. Sir Tufton||Buchanan-Smith, Alick(Angus,N&M)||Dalkeith, Earl of|
|Bell, Ronald||Buck, Antony (Colchester)||Dance, James|
|Bennett, Sir Frederic (Torquay)||Bullus, Sir Eric||d'Avigdor-Goldsmid, Sir Henry|
|Bennett, Dr. Reginald (Gos. & Fhm)||Burden, F. A.||Dean, Paul (Somerset, N.)|
|Berry, Hn, Anthony||Campbell, Gordon||Deedes, Rt. Hn. W. F. (Ashford)|
|Biffen, John||Carlisle, Mark||Digby, Simon Wingfield|
|Biggs-Davison, John||Carr, Rt. Hn. Robert||Doughty, Charles|
|Birch, Rt. Hn. Nigel||Cary, Sir Robert||Douglas-Home, Rt. Hn. Sir Alec|
|Black, Sir Cyril||Channon, H. P. G.||Drayson, G. B.|
|Blaker, Peter||Clark, Henry||du Cann, Rt. Hn. Edward|
|Body, Richard||Cooke, Robert||Eden, Sir John|
|Elliot, Capt. Walter (Carshalton)||Kimball, Marcus||Ramsden, Rt. Hn. James|
|Emery, Peter||King, Evelyn (Dorset, S.)||Rawlinson, Rt. Hn. Sir Peter|
|Errington, Sir Eric||Kirk, Peter||Renton, Rt. Hn. Sir David|
|Eyre, Reginald||Kitson, Timothy||Ridley, Hn. Nicholas|
|Farr, John||Lambton, Viscount||Ridsdale, Julian|
|Fisher, Nigel||Lancaster, Col. C. G.||Rippon, Rt. Hn. Geoffrey|
|Fletcher-Cooke, Charles||Lane, David||Robson Brown, Sir William|
|Fortescue, Tim||Langford-Holt, Sir John||Rodgers, Sir John (Sevenoaks)|
|Foster, Sir John||Legge-Bourke, Sir Harry||Rossi, Hugh (Hornsey)|
|Galbraith, Hon. T. G.||Lewis, Kenneth (Rutland)||Royle, Anthony|
|Gibson-Watt, David||Lloyd, Ian (P'tsm'th, Langstone)||Russell, Sir Ronald|
|Giles, Rear-Adm. Morgan||Longden, Gilbert||St. John-Stevas, Norman|
|Gilmour, Ian (Norfolk, C.)||Loveys, W. H.||Sandys, Rt. Hn. D.|
|Gilmour, Sir John (Fife, E.)||Lubbock, Eric||Scott, Nicholas|
|Glover, Sir Douglas||McAdden, Sir Stephen||Scott-Hopkins, James|
|Glyn, Sir Richard||MacArthur, Ian||Sharples, Richard|
|Godber, Rt. Hn. J. B.||Macleod, Rt. Hn. lain||Shaw, Michael (Sc'b'gh & Whitby)|
|Goodhart, Philip||McMaster, Stanley||Sinclair, Sir George|
|Goodhew, Victor||Macmillan, Maurioe (Farrtham)||Stainton, Keith|
|Gower, Raymond||Maddan, Martin||Steel, David (Roxburgh)|
|Grant, Anthony||Maginnis, John E.||Stodart, Anthony.|
|Gresham Cooke, R.||Marples, Rt. Hn. Ernest||Stoddart-Scott, Col. Sir M. (Ripon)|
|Grieve, Percy||Marten, Neil||Summers, Sir Spencer|
|Grimond, Rt. Hn. J.||Maude, Angus||Tapsell, Peter|
|Gurden, Harold||Maudling, Rt. Hn. Reginald||Taylor, Sir Charles (Eastbourne)|
|Hall, John (Wycombe)||Mawby, Ray||Taylor, Edward M.(G'gow, Cathcart)|
|Hall-Davis, A. G. F.||Maxwell-Hyslop, R. J.||Taylor, Frank (Moss Sids)|
|Hamilton, Marquess of (Fermanagh)||Maydon, Lt.-Cmdr. S. L. C.||Teeling, sir William|
|Hamilton, Michael (Salisbury)||Mills, Peter (Torrington)||Temple, John M.|
|Harris, Frederic (Croydon, N.W.)||Miscampbell, Norman||Thatcher, Mrs. Margaret|
|Harrison, Col. Sir Harwood (Eye)||Mitchell, David (Basingstoke)||Thorpe, Rt. Hn. Jeremy|
|Harvey, Sir Arthur Vere||Montgomey, Fergus||Tilney, John|
|Harvie Anderson, Miss||Morrison, Charles (Devizes)||Turton, Rt. Hn. R. H.|
|Hastings Stephen||Mott-Radclyffe, Sir Charles||Van Straubenzee, W R|
|Hawkins, Paul||Munro-Lucas-Tooth, Sir Hugh||Vaughan-Morgan, Rt Hn Sir John|
|Hay, John||Murton, Oscar||Vickers, Dame Joan|
|Heald, Rt. Hn. Sir Lionel||Nabarro, Sir Gerald||Wainwright, Richard (Cons Valley)|
|Heseltine, Michael||Neave, Airey||Walker-Smith, Rt. Hn. Sir Derek|
|Higgins, Terence L.||Nicholls, Sir Harmar||Wall, Patrick|
|Hiley, Joseph||Noble, Rt. Hn. Michael||Walters, Dennis|
|Hill, J. E. B.||Nott, John||Ward, Dame Irene|
|Hogg, Rt. Hn. Quintin||Onslow, Cranley||Weatherill, Bernard|
|Holland, Philip||Orr, Capt. L. P. S.||Webster, David|
|Hooson, Emlyn||Orr-Ewing, Sir Ian||Wells, John (Maidstone)|
|Hordern, Peter||Osborn, John (Hallam)||Whitelaw, Rt. Hn. William|
|Hornby, Richard||Osborne, Sir Cyril (Louth)||Wills, Sir Gerald (Bridgwater)|
|Howell, David (Guildford)||Page, Graham (Crosby)||Wilson, Geoffrey (Truro)|
|Hunt, John||Page, John (Harrow, W.)||Winstanley, Dr. M. P.|
|Hutchison, Michael Clark||Pearson, Sir Frank (Clitheroe)||Wolrige-Gordon, Patrick|
|Iremonger, T. L.||Peel, John||Wood, Rt. Hn. Richard|
|Irvine, Bryant Godman (Rye)||Percival, Ian||Woodnutt, Mark|
|Jennings, J. C. (Burton)||Peyton, John||Worsley, Marcus|
|Johnson Smith, G. (E. Grinstead)||Pike, Miss Mervyn||Wright, Esmond|
|Johnston, Russell (Inverness)||Pink, R. Bonner||Wylie, N. R.|
|Jones, Arthur (Northants, S.)||Pounder, Rafton||Younger, Hn. Georgs|
|Jopling, Michael||Powell, Rt. Hn. J. Enoch|
|Kaberry, Sir Donald||Price, David (Eastleigh)||TELLERS FOR THE NOES:|
|Kerby, Capt. Henry||Pym, Francis||Mr. R. W. Elliott and|
|Kershaw, Anthony||Quennell, Miss J. M.||Mr. Jasper More.|
That this House expresses its appreciation to the members of the Civil Defence Corps and the Auxiliary Fire Service for their services to the cause of Civil Defence, and while
recognising the great value of the contribution made by the voluntary services, notes with approval that the Government, having regard to the economic and international situation, have decided to make a reduction in the level of Civil Defence.